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Declaration of Rights, • . • • • • • 243 

Amendments proposed, •••••• • • 244 

The Question on Adoption, 250 

SOUTH CAROLINA, (in L^slaiure,) 253 

(in Convention,) 318 

The Question on Ratification, 338 

List of Del^;ates to the Congress of 1765, 341 

Opinions, from 1789 to 1836, involving Constitutional Princi- 
ples, from Congressional Debates, &c., 343 to 524 and 599 
Virginia Resolutions of 1793, by Mr. Madison, • • • . 528 

Answers of the States, 532 

Kentucky Resolutions, by Mr. Jefferson, 540 

Report on the Virginia Resolutions, by Mr. Madison, . . 546 
President Jackson's Proclamation on the Ordinance of South 

Carolina, 582 

Mr. Madison's Letter on the TarifT, and Banks, .... 600 

Mr. Jeflerson on Banks, 609 

Mr. Madison to Mr. Stevenson, on Debts, <&c., • • . .612 

Gren. Alexander Hamilton on Banks, 617 

Various Papers on the Veto Power, 525, 620 

Digest of Decisions in the Courts of the Union, involving 

Constitutional Principles, 626 




ORGANIZATION of the Convention, 1 

RULES for the Government of the Convention, Electon, &c, 9 

HENRY ABBOTT— Religion; oppowd to an eiclusive EtUbliahmeut ; no 
religious Test ; Pagan or Deiat uia/ obUin Office ; Oath ', by whom are 
we to swear ? Jupiter, &c., 191 

Mr. BLOOD WORTH — opposed to Congrrwional Control over Election!, 67 

Jurisdiction ; no Provision fur Juries in civil Causes, 142 

Trial by Jury ; not on a satisfactory Footing,. 1^1 

Defence nf its Omission not satisfactory ; Precaution in granting Powers, 

107. Misaissiippi Casi% • • 168 

Sovereignty of the Federal Government annihilates the States, 179 

Powers of Congress dangerous to State Laws, IbO 

AuiendmentSf for previous ones, 184. Southern and Northern Interests 

divide at Susquehamiah, 186 

Adverts to the Annapolis Convention, «Xdc., 235 

Mr. NATHAN BRYAN — defends the Majority, 248 

Mr. CABARRUS — Prohibitions against Paper Emissions ; ex poMfiuUo Laws, . . 184 

Mr. CALDWELL — Maxims, fundamental Principles, 9 

Convention not authorized to usie the Expression " We, the People," 15 

Legislative Power controlled by Vice-President's Vote, 26 

Elections liable to Abuse, 62 

Abuse of Parliamentary Power, 65 

Sweeping Clause, not plain ; ** Pursuance " equivocal and ambtgnous, 187 

Relififion ; conceived that Jews, Mahometans, and Pagans, are mvited to the 

United Sutes, 199 

Mr. WILLIAM R. DAVIE (a Member of the Federal Convention) — for in- 

vestigating the Subj<H*t, and discussing Clause by Clause, 8 

System extensive, involving the Principles of Federal Government, 12 

Powers of the F<'d«>ral Convention ; states some of the Events, and the 

Defects of the Contederiition, which gave Birth to the Convention, 16 

Negro Ri*presentation ; Jealousies of the East; one Kind of Property entitled 

to Representntion as well as any other, &c., 30 

Vice-Prenident, Reastms why introduced ; Consolidation not intended ; 

Representatives, 58 

Confederacies ; Amphintyonic ; European, • 59 

Rhode Island, her Conduct ; Elections ; true Construction of the Clause,. . . (K) 

Rhode Island ; Party Influence, &c, ; Elections, dec., 65 

Journal ; Publication ; necessary to conceal it during the Confederation,. ... 72 

Principle on which the Constitution was formed, 102 

Treaty-making Power, in all Countries, placed in the Executive Depaji- 
menl, 119. States would not confederate without an equal Voice in the 
Formation nf Treaties ; Separation of Powers, 120. President's Election 

on fair Principles ; his Nominations, '. 12S 

Senatorial Term of Service ; thirteen Councillors would destroy Presidential 
Responsibility, 12*2. State Sovereignty represented in the Senate ; Treaty ; 
Laws, their Execution ; Judiciary ; prohibitory Provisions on^^ht to 


Mr DA V I£, eontinued — Pn je 

tQpenede the Laws of particalar States, 155. Pine-barren Acts, Paper 
money; Debts; executing the Laws, 157. Cognizance of Contro« 
versies, 159. Federal Laws conflicting with those ot the States ; Legisla- 
tion on Individuals instead of States ; Treaties ; Ends of the Constitution 

accomplished by a paramount Judiciary, 16'J 

Povers granted, «Xcc., 182. Operation on Paper Money ; its great Deprecia- 
tion ; legal Tender, &c., 183 

Securities, no Power to interfere with them, Ibl 

Opposed to the previous Question; conditional Ratification alarming, 21o 

Against standing out, and for Adoption, 4 2^i6 

Mr. GOUDY — for certain Rules to govern the Proceedings, 10 

Powers of Congress ; Tendency to destroy the State GoTemments, i)'3 

Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY — Congress; Apprehension that it may perpetuate 

itself, 70 

Teas and Nays ; one fiflh required, 73 

Slavery ; Manumission apprehended, 101 

Laws supreme ; Obligation of Contracts ; Redemption of Securities, lUO 

Mr. HARDIMAN •- Defence, where to apply, OU 

Mr WHITMILL HILL — Requisition; Taxes, to be paid in Money Loons,.., {£1 

Ml IREDELL — Full and fair Discuision necessary, 4 

Nature of Government ; People may model it as they please, 9 

Constitution not a Comoact. &c., 10 

Farther Remarks on tne Necessity of fully debating the proposed Con- 
stitution, 13 

President s Objections to Bills, 27 

Impeachment, a Security for good Behavior in Office, 3:2 

Obedience to two Governments, 3o 

Sf^nttorial Term ; Powers of the Senate ; Reference to British Government, 3o 
Elections; Control by gener^ Government; executive, legislative, and 

judicial, separate, an Improvement, 73 

Veto by the President, 74 

Taxation ; approves the Power by Congress, 91 

Powers ought to be competent to the public Safety, ^ . 95 

Slavery, no Power in Congress to abolish it, lOii 

Election ; approves the Clause, lUo 

Preridential Election ; Objections answered, 107. President's Power over 
the Military; his Council, their Opinion to be given in Writing; Ex 

ample of England, 108. Responsibility ; Pardon ; linpeochment, ^lij y 

8o?ereignly of the States; Inequality of Suffrage in makingr Treaties, 125. 
Bribes ; impeachment, not proper to render the Senate liable to it; Usage 
of discussing Treaties in the British Parliament, 126. Surrender of Terri- 
tory without an Act of Parliament; relative Influence of the two Houses 
of Parliament, 128. Rulers should be watched; Amendments proposed by 

the four Sutes, 130 

No Danger from the Apprehension of Aristocracy ; Commons an Overmatch 

for King and Lords,.... 132 

Senate's Power ought to counteract that of the House, to preserve State 

Sovereignty, 133. Choice of President and Senntfjrs ; Mode of nomiuat- 

mg; Approval of the Senate; Influence of the House pn*ponderating, 134 

Trial b^ Jury; the best; its Omission owing to the Difficulty of establishing 

a uniform Mode, 144. Old Confederation; Quotas; Debts; Supreme 

Coart ; Stamp Act ; Bill of Rights, absurd and dangerous, 147 

Juries may be either in superior or infrrior Courts, 152 

Trial by Jury; omitted from the Difficulty of the Case, in the Convention, 

arising from the different Modes that obtain in the Slates, 164 

Jury Trial further noticed; Constitution should define Authority, so as to 

leave no Doubt; Congress claiming Power not given, a Usurpation 170 

Slsves, emancipated in some of the Northern States ; ** Persons," escaping, 
shall be delivemi up to those entitled to Service; Reasons why the 
Northern Delegates objected to the word ** Slave " being mentioned in the 

Constitution, 17b 

Amendments may be made ; Ghiffhige in the Senate ; Compromise on 

Slavery, &c., , 177 

Three Fourths may call a Convention to amend, 17S 

IjtwM ««asi8tent with the Constitution binding on the People; Powers 

fl INDEX. 

Ur. IREDELL, cootinoed— P^ll^ 

usurped ', Powers intended to be jri^^Ot 1^8*1 witlMHit new Anthor^j, &d., 179 
Paper Money not affi?cted, id5. SeUtive 1m|iortaace of the Northern and 

Southern States, 186 

Replies to general Objections, 218 

Exclusive Tiei^islation ; States will stipolate ; Insult to Congress in 1783 ; 
Powers enumerated, excluded from all others; Abuse of Tower; Non- 
Adoption out of the Union ; State of the Union in 1776 ; anticipates the 
Interest of the First Congress ; Importance of framing the first Code of 

Laws, 218, 223 

"Nine,'* sufficient to establish the Constitution; Disadvantages in not 

joining the Union under the Constitution, 228 

His Resolution for Teas and Nays, 241 

Religion; Tests; Persecutions; its Toleration in America; Sacrament in 
Great Britain ; Office open to all Religions ; Guaranty explained ; Presi- 
dent must be a Native ; Form of an Oath ; governed by the Religion of 
the Person taking it ; Case of an East Indian, a Gentoo, in Char&s II.'s 

Time, 197 

Moves for Ratification and subsequent Amendments, 248 

Gov. JOHNSTON— Vice-President's Vote defended, 96 

Representative accountable only to his Constituents, 31^ 

Impeachment ; Removal ; Dismialification, ^^^ 

State Officers amenable to the Courts of Law, oO 

Amendments ; no Danger apprehended, 56 

Powers ; no Parallel between Congress and Parliament, 64 

Taxation, in Kind, 77 

Replies to Objections, 8A 

Treaties ; Dinerence between Confederation and Constitution, 115 

Jurisdiction, concurrent between State and Federal Courts, 141 

Trial by Jury, dissimilar Modes, 150 

Constitution must be the supreme Law, 15(i 

Amendments ; adopting States ; no Office-Hunter, &c.y 226 

Fallacy of the Opinion that the Pope, or a Foreigner, may be chosen 

President ; Religion, ID8 

Mr. WILLIE JONES — for putting the Question upon the Constitution im- 
mediately, 4 

Reasons for this Proposition, 7 

Ratification ; wished to be out of the Union, 245 

Though no Share in the new Appointments, common Interest with Virginia ; 
Jenerson, he stated, wished Ratification only to preserve the Union ; 

Office Expectants, their Bias, &c., 225 

Defence of the Opposition, 234 

Amendments, 240 

Against Adoption; moved the previous Question ; refuses to withdraw his 
Motion, 216 to 217 

Mr. LANCASTER — his Apprehensions for Constitutional Amendments, 212. 
Elections ; President's conditional Negative ; Two Thirds very rarely will 
agree to a Law ; Appeals ; Armies ; Religion ; Papists or Mahometans 
may occupy the Chair; Disqualification m the States; would oppose 
Adoption, 215 

Mr. LOCKE — Constitution grants unlimited Powers, 168. Necessity of Pine- 

barren Acts ; expedient to make Paper Money a legal Tender, 169 

Opposes the Adoption, 239 

Mr. LENOIR — President's Treaty-making Power, a legislative Act, 27 

Convention exceeded its Powers ; Reasons for opposmg, 201 

Mr. MACLAINE — Distinction between a Monarchy and Republic, 10 

"We, the People," proper, 16 

Constitution a Blank till adopted, 24 

Vice-President's casting Vote, JJfi 

Biennial Elections defended. 

Impeachment not extended to Representatives,. 

Vice-President's Powers, 42 

Impeachment, not to reach petty Officera, 43 

Misdemeanors, by great State Officers, how redressed ? 46 

Parliamentary Power ; Blackstone ; Militia Power, • 6»$ 

Elections ; Time, Manner, Place, «&c., .••... ^6^ ^ 

INOSX. vii 

VbHaCLAIllE, eontinued— rufk 

AjHwiotisf Powitr i Prewdeatml Py>w9ff0, ..«••• •«%««•• «•••• 1^ 

Jaaiciaryi State uid Federal CouxU aepaxAla^ 139 

CoogreM, iU Povert limited and enumarated ,.......••» •»••••• 140 

Stites^ their Interests connected ; Trial hyjfitjf 151 

^mec in the People, uot in the States; Uistiootion betwatA Law and Fast; 

Federal Jurisdictioo linuted,... • •• « 160- 

Sute and Federal Courts, 164 to 172 

Money Bilb ; Paper Money ; I>epreciation, though ultimately good, 179 

Trial W Jury ; further Explanations, 175 

St»ie dovttxeignty not in i>anger from Coiigrass, «....••••.. ...^ 180 

Taxes will be inconsiderable; Congress will have Ciadii abroad ; Adoption 

will bring out Specie, 188 

Trade, its Resources ; lioans, 189 

Mr. M'DOWALL — Elections; Control QTer Taxation,, opposed to its Surrender 

to the general Govomment, 87 

Power without Responsibility, 119 

Senate, Danger of Combination with the President, • 134 

Trial by Jury ; wealthy Suitox may prayail, • • 143 

Jory Irtal, not secured, ,.••«• ••• 149 

Taxes ; Consequence oi Ambiguity,. ,.»... • 139 

Bill of Rights essential; Elections, 210 

Mr. MILLER — Presidential Powers, a Defect in the Constitutioa, 114 

Mr. PERSON — for preyioua Question, 217 

Mr. PORTER -~ Money Clause, whence does the Powex originate ? 94- 

Trea^-making Power in the Presideni and Senate, 113 

Treaties ; House of Representatiyes ought to haye a Vote in making them, . . 1191 

Mr. SHEPHERD— for full Discussion, 217 

Mr. SPAIGHT (a Member of the Federal Con yontion) — Taxes, whether paid to 

State or Federal Ooyernment, no Difl^rence, 81 

Siayes, Compromise explained, 100 

Electors, regiilarity required, 104, 106 

Prpsidential Powers ; Command of the Army, • 114 

Presidential and Senatorial Responsibility, • 124 

Judiciary ; Federal Convention unanimous in keeping separate the Federal 

and State Gvoyemments, 139 

Trial bj Jury; in the Federal Conyention, considerable Time taken to 

inyestigale the Subjeet, 144 

Convention, denies that it exceeded its Powers, 206 

Senate responsible to State Legislatures ; Federal Constitution farorable to 
Trial by Jury ; Religion^ no Power oyer it ; an Infidel will never be chosen 
for Omoe ; Amendments ; exclusive Legislation ; Liberty of the Press ; 
Census ; Requisitione done away, 206, 210 

Mr. SPENCER— Ooyernor»,SeryanU of the People, 13 

Objections to the new Form of Government, 50 

Refractory States ; Elections, 65 

Taxes, Inlerfiiience between the States and tha Fsdaial Goyenraent; 

Objections, «•....•.• 75 

Taxes; laid by the State preferred, 80 

Bnt in War by the general Government, . • 82 

Executive Power; standing Council of one Member from each of the 

States, &o., 116 

Treaties should have the Sanction of all the Senate ; Aristocracy should be 

ffuarded against, , *. 131 

Judieiary, ODiections to the System, 136 

Preamble, ''We, the People; '^^ Oath, 153. Trial by Jury, 154 

Contends for a Bill of Rights ; Power, Jurisdiction, and R^fht, notgiyen up. 

remain in the States ; oejeets to a Reyision of Fbcts hy Federal C&wt, ana 

eoncorrent Jurisdiction dangerous, • 163 

Boundary of a Bill of Rights wanted, 168 

Behgkms Tests, Foundation of Perseoutioo, • 200 

Amendments,!^. For Union, • 230 

Mr. STEELE — Elections ; no Check in the old Confederation,^ 71 

Jnamal, its Publication. ••.. 72 

Taiation, in Payor of toe Clause, %? 

Illi INDEX. 

Mr. JOSEPH TAYLOR— Wordin|r, «« We, the People,'* an uninied Power,. . $^ 

Appointments ; Rights parted with, • • 26 

Impeachment^ does it reach Collectors? 4r 

Elections, their Control in yagne Terms, 70 

Electors, Objections to the Power, 104,105 

Mr. WILSON — wished Exclusion of Popish Priests from Office, 212 


TEAS AND NATS, at large, on Amendment, 250 

CLOSING PROCEEDINGS— «« neither to ratify nor reject the ConsUtnUon,'* 

adopted by a large M^ority, 25J 


ROBERT BARNWELL— for a limited Discossion, 263. Defence of the Con- 
stitution, 291. President's Responsibility ; Treaties; Congressional Pay ; 
Paper Medium ; Trial by Jury ; Preferences ; Importation of Negroes ; 
Carrying Trade ; pleased with the Clause relative to Slayes, 293 

PIERCE BUTLER (one of the Members of the Federal Convention) — Im- 

peachment ; Senate ; Peace and War, 26? 

Mr. PATRICK CALHOUN — Religion ; too great a Latitude allowed, 312 

PATRICK DOLLARD (in Conventum) — his Constituents, to a Man, opposed 

to the Constitution for Want of a Bill of RighU, 336 

Com. GILLON — satisfied with the Doings of the Convention ; in Favor of 

American Bottoms, 297 

Hon. RALPH IZARD — Right of Kings to make Treaties, 268 

Mr. RAWLINS LOWNDES— Senate and the old Confederation; Constitution 

and Laws paramount ; Presidential Powers, 265 

Treaties contrary to Law not valid ; £ul(Mrium on the Confederation, 271. 
New Government an Experiment ; no aoeouate Advantage ; Slavery,. . . . 272 

Importation of Negroes, 272. Evils apprehended from the Laws of Congress ; 
local Legislature ; Fears for the Fate of the Southern States, 273 

Defence of the Confederation ; Powers of the President ; Repreitentation ; 
Senators ; Commercial Advantae;es enjoyed by the Eastern States ; Taxes ; 
Congressional Pay ; recommends another Convention, ■ 287, 291 

Explains his Argiiment on Treaties; Checks; limiting the Importation of 
Negroes an Evil ; Navy to come from the East ; Taxes ; Expense of the 
Government; Presidential Powers; the " Well-born ;" preparatory Plan 
for a Monarchy ; Constitution ruinous to the Liberty of America, 308 

Mr. JAMES LINCOLN — opposes the Constitution, as an aristocratic Govern- 
ment; President may nold his Office for Life; Liberty of the Press 
forgotten ; Bill of Rights essential, 312 

Col. MASON — thanks Mr. Lowndes for his Opposition to the Constitution,... 316 

Mr. JOHN MATTHEWS— denies the Efficiency of the ConfederaUon, 298 

JUDGE PENDLETON — Impeachment, 263 

Only three States sanctioned the Importation of Negroes, 272 

CHARLES PINCKNET (a Member of the Federal Convention) — Motives as 
a Member ol the Federal Convention ; Condition of the Country at the 
•Close' of the War; Defects of the Confederation, &c., 253. Necessity ' 
of a Government to operate on the People ; Compromise ; rapid Glance 

at different Parts of the System, 257 

Presideut*s Power ; Responsibility, 280 

Observations on Uie System (before the Convention May 12.) But one 
Government in Europe that provides for civil Rii^hts. 318. People 
Servants; Rulers supreme; Ireland; the Netlierlands; America taught 
the Rights of Man, 319. Primogeniture, 320. Peopled classed ; commercial 
foreign Trade, Root of public Distress ; mechanical ; agricultural, 221. 
Merctisnts ; Mediocrity a leading Feature ; Division into States ; East- 
ern, 322. Middle ; Maryland and the Southern States ; Outline of the 
Legislation jf Pennsylvania ; Georgia ; Marvland, 323. New Tork, 
MMsachuselts, 325. Foreign Governments; Evils of a Republic, 326 


Coostitution repreients States as well as GoTemments ; thi^e principal 
Forms of OoTemment considered, 327 

CUAAL£S COT£8 WORTH PINCKNET (a Member of the Federal Conven- 
tion) — Treaties, where to be lodged ; President, the Power of proposing 
Treaties, 263 

Objections answered; Treaties not repugnant to Laws; Mode of Toting in 
Seoate. dto^ 266 

Treaty or Peaee, on its Promolgation ; Recogniianoes diseharged ; Case of 
Love for Murder, 270 

Explanations on Treaties; paramount under the Con&derationu 277. Vattel 
and Burlamaqui quoted ; South Carolina interested in the Saciedness of 
Treaties ; properly lodged in the Senate and President.. 278 

Abuse of Power; Impeachment; Things under the Confederation pictured; 
The ^ three fifUis,'^ 2d0. RepresenUtlon, 283. Suflbrings of the Eastern 
States in the Cause of Independence ; Negroes necessary in Cultiyatron 
for South Carolina ; Compromise ; Security against Emancipation ; Fugi- 
tives recoverable, 284 

Independent before the Treaty of Peace ; replies to Mr. Lowndes's Objec- 
tions; Powers voted for the general Good; Elections; Representatives; 
Senate ; Presidential Elections ; Foreign Influence to be guarded against; 
commercial Preferences ; Judiciary, 3U0 to 308 

Replies to Mr. Lincoln's Objections; Policy of the Refiligibility of the 
rresident; General Government, no Powers but what are expressly 
granted ; Reasons why a Bill of Rights was not inserted, 315 

{In Canventwn) — 10th Sec. Art. 1. On the Restriotive Clauses ; Paper 
Money ; Credit with Foreigners, • • 333 

Mr. PRINGLE (Speaker) — Treaty-making belongs to the executive Depart- 
ment; President and Senate do not possess legislative Power, 268 

DAVID RAMSAY — Treaties superior to local Laws, 270 

Continental Debt ; old Confederation dissolved, 286 

HoQ. JACOB READ — Confederation; Congress; its Efficiency farcical; 

Instances, 286 

Hon. JOHN RUTLEDGE (a Member of the Federal Convention) — Treaties 
paramount; their Mode of Ratification in England, and Operation in 

Afoerica, 267. Difficulties in *82 because nine States aid not attend, 268 

Treaties, the paramount Law ; Eulogium on the Constitution, 311 

Hon. EDWARD RUTLEDGE— Weakness of the Confederation; defends the 
Constitution, 274. Taxes, in Favor of the South ; $K) a head on Negroes 
eouivalent to 5 per cent on Importations; all Free taxed; only two 

fifths of the Slaves taxed, 277 

Federal Convention did not exceed its Powers ; Navigation ; Exclusion from 
West India Trade, du:. 298 

Gen. SUMPTER (in Convention) — moved an Adjournment, to give further 

Time for Consideration ; rejected, yeas, 89 ; nays, 135, • 338 

ALEXANDER TWEED (tn OmvsiUum)— denies the Restrictions of his Con- 
•tituents ; open to Conviction ; Reform needed ; Importance of the Con- 
stitution, 329 

QUESTION— To assemble at Charleston the 12th of May; ayes, 76; 

nays, 75, 316,317 

RATIFICATION, (m Convention ;) yeu, 149; nays, 73, 338,340 

CONGRESS of 1765. JVeCs — List of Delegates and Extract from the Jour- 
nal, 341. Extract from Ramsay on Ratification, 341 


ABOLITION. Right of PeUUon. H. R. January, 1836. — Cashing, 594, 596 

AUEN AND SEDITION LAWS. June, 1798. — E. Livingston, Taiewell, 

440. Report,1799, 441 

VIRGINIA RESOLUTIONS of 1798, pronounciiy the Sedition Laws to be un- 

constitutioiial, and defining the Rights of the Dtates, drawn by Mr. Maiiison, COS 




Bute of Delaware, 532 

SteteoflUMde 1iUm4, 633 

Commonwealth of ManacliiiMtto, 533 

Bute of New YoA, 537 

State of Connecticut, 538 

StM^ofNewHaoiiMkinf. 538 

8t«te of Vermottt, 539 

KENTUCKY RESOLUTIONS of 1798 and 1799. (The original Draft 

prepared by Mr. Jefferaon.) 540 to 545 

MADISON'S REPORT OB the Virginia ReMlutiona, 546io5dU 

ALl&N AND SEDITION LAWS. M.Lyon. Senate, March, 1811.— Smith, 

of South Carolina, ••...- 474 


Gerry, Ames, Madiaon, 404 

AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION ; Election of Preaident, Senate, 
January23,I800. — C. Pinckney, ofS. C, tJt 

. H. R. August, 1804. — Jackaon, 453 

. Senate, March, 1886. — Dicker- 

•on, 494. (With Extraela from the Journal of the Federal Convention on 
the Presidential Term.) 

APPOINTMENT; Panama Mtttion. Senate, March, 1826. — Berrien, . . 480 to 483 

APPROPRIATIONS OF MONEY, for Vesaela of War. H. R. February 25, 

1797.— GaUatin, Nicholas, 439 

ARMY, STANDING, Regulation of. H. R. Januaiy 5, 1800. — Randolph,. ... 441 

BANKS. Hamilton's Exposition to Congress, 1791. Extract, 617 to 620 

BANK, Esublishment of. H. R. February % 1791. — Giles, 411. Vining, Madi- 
son, 412. Ames, 414 to 417. Sedgwick, Madison, 417. Lawrence, Jack- 
son, Boudinot, Stone, 418. G«rry, 419 to 422 

BANK OF THE UNITED STATES. Renewal of Charier. H. R. 
April 13, 1810. — Love^ Troup, Key, Abion, 456. Bnrwell, P. B. Porter, 
Eppea, Crawford, 457. Clay, 45f 

. H. R. April 13, 1830. — M'Duffie, . . 52^ 

(J{oU. Jackson's Message of December 7, 1630.) 

BANKS. Mr. Jefllerson. Extract referred to by Mr. Madison, 609 to 61 

J^bU on Banks, from Jefferson's Memoirs, March 1 1, 1798, 61 

JYbte on the Tariff, furnishing a Summary of the Argument of the South 
Carolina Exposition. See page 580. 

. Mr. Madison to C. J. Ingenoll, February, 1831, GOk 

BANKRUPT BILL. H. R. Februarv 16, 1818. — Hopkinson, 470. Tyler, 

Sergeant, MiUs, 471. March 12, 'l822. — Buchanan, 47i^ 

BANKRUPT LAW. Senate, May 1, 1826. — Hayne, 490 to 493. Woodbury, 493 

BANKRUPTCY. Senate, January, 1826. — Van Burcn, 47S 

COLUMBIA. DISTRICT of; Case of J. P. Van Ness. H. R, January, 

17, 1803. — Van Ness, Bacon, 451 

To re-cede the District H. R. February 9, 1803. — Bayard, 451 

CONTRACTORS. March 23,1806.— Eppes, :.... 454 

DEBT, DOMESTIC. H. R. February 22, 1790. — Smith, S. C. 405. Madison, 406 

, PUBLIC. Reduction of the Public Debt. H. R. November 20, 1792. 

— Mercer,429. Ames, 430. Madison, 431 

DEBTS. Mr. Madison to Mr. Stevenson, 27th November, 1830, examining 
the Origin and Progress of the Clause of the Constitution, ^ To pay the 
Debts, and provide for common Defence,*' &c.. Extract bl2 lo 615 

DIGEST OF DECISIONS in the CourU of the Union, involving Constitu- 

tional Principles, 626 

DUTIES. May 15, 1789.— White, Madiion, Cfymer, Carroll, 345. Wadsworth, 
Ames, Fitzsimons, Hartley, Bland, Boudinot, 346. Sinnickson, Lawrence, 
Smith, S. C. ; Messages of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe ; W. 
H. Crawfcvd't Report, 347 

DUTIES OR LICENSES. H. R. Deoember 31, 1800. —Bird, 442 

DUELLING. Persons engaged in a Duel to be disqualified from holding Office. 

H.R. December 31, Rill -i^Dani, w. 451 

£MBARaO,toiruapett€. H. K. Apird t9, 1806. -^ ^uinfty, 186. Ccy, 456 


flUURGOES, to regulate and reToke. H. R. Hay 529, 17M. — MaditoD, ••••433 

EXFONGHVO BESOLUTION. Senate, 1836.— Leigh, 60a RiYea, 599 

nSHUlY, OOO. OMttting BoimlKa. H. R. Fbtniary 3, 1793. -- GUee, 426. 
WiUiaBMiNi. AUaMon. « 427 

FRENCH REPUBLIC, on itrU'uMr out eompUiBentaiy Renlr to. Senate, Jan- 
0117 C 1796. -- Elliworth, Botler, 434 

IHTEUIAli IMPROy£Bl£NT. H. R. February 11, 1796.— Madwon, Bald- 
win, Bourne, Williama, 434. Thacher, 435 

■■■■ ]>eeember5|1816.-~BIadMon, 461 

■ BoBueBiU. H.R.Febrau7,1817. — Picker- 
i^Cki|r,467. Madiaea'a Objeetiowi to tlw abore Bonus BUI, 468 

— X>iHnal Swamp Canal, Senate, May, IdSM. 

VanBuiM, 477 

" . H. R. Jaaiia^ 18, 1885. — Cambieleng, 

Berrien, 479 

. Florida Cana],Febniar7 14, 1896.— Braneh, 

Bowan, 480 

IMPBACmMBNT OF JUDGE CHASE. H. R. Febraaiy 81, 1806. — Hop- 
kineon, 453. (ffoU from Story's Comaealariea.) 

mOlAN TREATIES. Senatt, May, 1830.— Bpragne^ 4S3 

AJDIdART. Senate, iaauaiy 8, 1800. — J. Maaon, 449. Stone, N. a 443. 
Breckmridge, HentphiU, 444. Bayaid, Rutledge, 445. Van Buran, 485, 
486. Woodbury, 487, 488 

— — — — . H. R. January 10, 18S5. — Webeter, 478 

JUDICIAL SYSTEM. Senate, April 7, 1896.— Mr. Van Buien, 486. Wood- 
bury, %^. • 487 

UyUISIANA TREATY. H. R. Ootober 96, 1803. — ClHol, Mitchell, Smilie, 
r, Tracy, 448. J. Q. AdaiM, 449. (Abte. Mr. Jeibraon'e Opinion 
LYON, MATTHEW, Petition of Senate, Marcb, 1891.— Smith, 474 

MILITARY APPROPRIAHON BILL. H. R. January 4, 1819.^ Lowndea, 472 

MILTXIA BILL. H.R. December 94, 1790. — Bloodword^Sbemlan,MadiMm, 

LiTennore, 438. Williamaon, 493. Boudinot, Jaekaon, LiYermore, 434 

MILITIA. Bill for organixing, &o. H. R. December, ]796^^Rutlierlbrd, . . . . • 438 

MISSOURI QUESTION. U. R. Deoember 13, 1881.— Lowndea, 474 

NULUFIGATION. Senate, April 8, 1830.— Joaiah 8. Johnson, 593 

OATH to support the Constithtion, May 6, 1789. — Geny, 343. Bfamd, Jackson, 

Lawtenoe, «n4 Sherman, , 344 

FATBONAOE, Foreign Intoreourse BiD. H. R. January 18, 1798. — GaUatin, 

439. Pmokney, Bayard, 440 

fOBT OFFICE. BiU to authorise the President to ehoose a MaU Route. 

H. B. Dee e mfcer 6, 1791. — Sedgwiek, Geary, Bonme, 485 

r08T-<»*nCfiS AND POST^ROADS. H. R. Jaa.3, 1798. — Fitxsimons,. 426 

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. BUI to determine the 'Hme When Electors 

ahaO be chosen, Ac, H. R. January 14, 1791. -^ Sherman, ...» 424 

' ■, ( Amendmeot,) Senate, 1896. — Van Bqrenf::488-^ 
PVBUC LANDS lor Internal Improfemmis, F^mry 13, 18QT. — Bayard,. . . ^ 

, Disposal of. Senate, May, 1826.- Van Buien, 488 

, Senate, February 23, 1830. — Woodbury, 628 

REFUGEES, ST. DOMINGO, BiU for the Relief of. H. R. January 10, 1794. 
— Madison, Nicholas, Boudinot. Dexter, 431. (JfoU. Relief of tne Citizens 
of Venezuela, to expend $50,000, passed, ayes, 45 ; noes, 29.) 

REMOVAL, POWER OF, by the President, on the Bill establishing the <* De- 

^partment of Foreign Affairs." H. R. June, 1789, 350 

Wliite, 350. White, 357. Lawrence, 367 to 371. 

Smith, S. C. 350 to 353. Boudinot, 357 to 361 . Jackson, 371 to 373. 
Huntingdon, 353. Ames, 361 to 364. Clymer, 373 to 374. 

Sedgwick, 353. Livermore, 364 to 366. Page, 374 to 375. 

MadUon, 964 to 367 Hartley, 366 to 367. Sherman, 975 to 370 


REMOVAL, POWER OF, (cootmoed.) 

Stone, 376 to 37a Lee, 388 to 389. Livermofe, 308. 

Madbon, 378 to 383. Boodinot, 389 to 39L MmImod, 396 to 400. 

Gerry, 363 to 386. Gerry, 301 to 393. Biddwin, 400 to 403. 

Beitfon, 386 to 387. Sbennan, 393 to 394. Geny, 403 to 404 

Sedgwick, 387 to 388. Amei, 394 to 396. 

RESTRICTIONS, COMMERCIAL. H. R. Jumaiy 31, 1794. — Madina,. . . 439 

. H. R. Febrouy 14, 1806.— Madimi's 

■eTen Reeolationf, • •••••••• 453 

RETALUTION for A^i«a»>n- H. R. Maj 93, 179a — SitgreftTea, 440 

RIGHT OF PETITION. (MoUium.) Senate, 1836. — Cnahtng, 694. Pren- 
tiaa, 595. Hugh L. Wnite, 596. Gnindj, King, of Alabama, Buchanan, 
597. King, ofGeorgia, Calhoun, 596 

SEAMEN'S BILL. Regolation of Seamen, in Public and PriTate Veasels. 

H. R. February, 1813. — Seybert, 460. Archer, 461 

SEMINOLE WAR. H. R. January 21 , 1819. — Richard M. JohnK>ni 47S 

SLAVE TRADE. Commitment of the Quaken' Memorial. H. R. Blarch, 1790. 
— Tucker, 406. Gerry, Burke, SoDtt, Jackaon, Sherman, Baldwin, Smith, 
S. C, 407. Page, Madwon, Gerry, 40a Boudinot, Stone, Tucker, S. C, 
Jackaon,409. ISmitb, S. C, Boudinot, 410. AoCa, 411 

SLAVERY. Panama BliHion. Senate, March, 182&—Hayne, 483 

. {JiboUtion,) Report on circulating, through the United States 
Mails, inflammatory Appeals. Calhoun. Senate, lebraaiy 4, 1836, 593 

STATE RIGHTS. (D^aU am FooU't Resolntiont.) Senate, January, 1830,. • 496^. 
Webster, 496 to 509. Hayne, [in replyJ 509 to 5ia V 

Webster, [closing remarks,] 516, 519. Ed. Lirrngston, 519. 

Woodbury, 520. Grundy, 531. 

TARIFF. H.R. April 26, 1820.— Clay, 473 

^, its ConstitutioraOity. Senate, 1824.— Hayne, 475 

. South Carolina Protest, 580 

. (JS'ua^Han^ President Jackson's PROCLAMATION, of the 10th 

of December, 183o, concerning the Ordinance of South Carolina of the 
24th of November, 1832, 582to59B 

. Mr. Madison to Mr. Cabell, dated September— October, 1826, 600 to 606 

TAXES, DIRECT. H. R. May 6, 1794. — Sedgwick, 433 

TREATY, COMMERCIAL, with Great Britain. H. R. January 8.1816.— 
Hopkinson ; Calhoun, 462. Tucker, 464. Pinckney, 465. rickering, 
Pinckney, .• 466 

TREATY-MAKING POWER, (JayV) H. R. March 23, 1796.— Murray, 

GaUatin,435. Madison, 436. Lyman, 437 

VOLUNTEER CORPS. H. R. January 12, 1812. — Poindexter, Grundy, 

Porter, Cheves, Clay, 459 

VETO. Monroe's Objections to An Act for the Preserration of the Cumberland 

Road, 525 

. Jackson's Objections to *'An Act authorising a Subseription to the * 

Mayaville, 4DC.,Road," 526 

, a short History of the, 620 

VETOES bydiifisfentPieBdents,Listofthe, 6M 








Al a Convention f begun and held at Hillsborough , the2lst day of July^ 
in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eighty 
and of the Independence of America the ISth, in pursuance of a resolu' 
tioH of the last Genercd Assembly, for the purpose of deliberating and 
determining on the proposed Plan of Federal Government , — 

A MAJORITY of those who were duly elected as members of this Conven- 
tion being met at the church, they proceeded to the election of a presi- 
dent, when his excellency, Samuel Johnston, Esq., was unanimously chosen, 
and conducted to the chair accordingly. 

The house then elected Mr. John Hunt and Mr. James Taylor clerks 
to the Convention, and also appointed door-keepers, &c. 

The house then appointed a select committee to prepare and propose 
certain rules and regulations for the government of the Convention in the 
discussion of the Constitution. 

The committee consisted of Messrs. Davie, Person, Iredell, I. M'Donald, 
Battle, Spaight, and the Hon. Samuel Spencer, Esq. 

The Convention then appointed a committee of three members from 
etch district, as a committee of privileges and elections, consisting of 
Messrs. Spencer, Irwin, Caldwell, Person, A. Mebane, Joseph Taylor, 
M'Dowall, J. Brown, J. Johnston, Davie, Peebles, E. Gray, Gregory, Ire- 
dell, Cabarrus, I. G. Blount, Keais, B. Williams, T. Brown, Maclaine, 
Foster, Clinton, J. Willis, Grove, J. Stewart, Martin, and Tipton 

The Convention then adjourned till to-morrow morning. 

Tuesday, July 22, 1788. 

The Convention met according to adjournment. 

The committee appointed for that purpose reported certain rules and 
regulations for the government of the Convention, which were twice read, 
and, with the exception of one article, were agreed to, and are as fol- 
lows, viz : — 

VOL. IV. 1 ' 


'' 1. When the president assumes the chair, the members shall take 
their seats. 

" 2. At the opening of the Convention, each day, the minutes of the 
preceding day shall be read, and be in the power of the Convention to be 
corrected, afler which any business addressed to the chair may be pro- 
ceeded upon. 

** *^. No member shall be allowed to speak but in his place, and, after 
rising and addressing himself to the president, shall hot proceed until per- 
mitted by the president. 

** 4. No member speaking shall be interrupted but by a call to order by 
the president, or by a member through the president. 

** 5. No person shall pass between the president and the person speak- 

*' 6. No person shall be called upoo for any words of heat, but on the 
day on which they were spoken. 

** 7. No member to be referred to in debate by name. 

"8. The president shall be heard without interruption, and when he 
rises, the member up shall sit down. 

"9. The presid€nt himself, or by request, may call to order any mem- 
ber who shall transgress the rules ; if a second time, the president may 
refer to him by name; the Crmvention may then examine and censure the 
member's conduct, he being allowed to extenuate or justify. 

*' 10. When two or more members are up together, the president shall 
determine who rose first. 

'Ml. A motion made and seconded shall be repeated by the president. 
A motion shall be reduced to writing if the president requires it. A mo- 
tion may be withdrawn by the member making it, before any decision is 
had upon it. 

'* 12. The name of him who makes, and the name of him who seconds, 
the motion, shall be entered upon the minutes. 

** 13. No member shall depart the service of the house without leave. 

** 14. Whenever the house shall be divided upon any question, two or 
more tellers shall be appointed by the president, to number the members 
on each side. 

** 15. No member shall come into the house, or remove from one place 
Co another, with his hat on, except those of the Quaker profession. 

** 16. Every member of a committee shall attend at the call of his 

** 17. The yeas and nays may be called and entered on the minutes, 
when any two members require it. 

*' 18. Every member actually attending the Convention shall be in his 
place at the time to which the Convention stands adjourned, or within 
half an hour thereof." 

Mr. Lenoir moved, and was seconded by Mr. Person, that the return 
for Dobbs county snould be read, which was accordingly read ; whereupon 
Mr. Lenoir presented the petition of sundry of the inhabitants of Dobbs 
county, complaining of an illegal election in the said county, and praying 
relief; which beinsr also road, on motion of Mr. Lenoir, seconded by Mr. 
Davie, Resolved, That the said petition be referred to the committee of 

Mr. Spaight presented the deposition of Benjamin Caswell, sheriff of 
Dobbs county, and a copy of the poll of an election held in the said 
county, fiir members to this Coavention, and the depositions of William 


Crom, Neil Hopkins, Robert White, John Hartsfield, Job Smith, and 
Frederick Baker, which, being severally read, were referred to the com* 
nittee of elections. 

Mr. Cabarrus presented the dq>08ition8 of Charles Markland, Juo., and 
Luther Spalding, relative to the election of Dobbs county ; which, being 
read, were referred to the committee of elections. 

The Conrention then adjourned to 10 o'clock to-morrow rooming. 

WSDNBSDAT, Jll/jf 23, 1788. 

The house met according to adjournment. 

Mr. Gregory, from the committee of elections, to whom were referred 
the returns from Dobbs county, and sundry other papers, and the petition 
of sundry of the inhabitants of Dobbs county relative to the election of 
the said county, delivered in a report; which, being read, was agreed to 
in the following words, viz : — 

" Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, that the sitting 
members returned from the county of Dobbs vacate their seats, as it does 
not appear that a majority of the county approved of a new election under 
the recommendation of his excellency, the governor ; but the contrary is 
more probable. 

" That it appears to this committee, that there was a disturbance and 
rk)t at the first election, (which was held on the days appointed by the re- 
solve of the General Assembly,) before all the tickets could be taken out 
of the box, and the box was then taken away by violence; at which time 
it appears there were a sufficient number of tickets remaining in the box 
to hive given a majority of the whole poll to five others of the candidates, 
besides those who had a majority of the votes at the time when the dis- 
turbance and riot happened. It is, therefore, the opinion of this commit- 
tee, that the sheriff could have made no return of any five members 
elected ; nor was there any evidence before the committee by which they 
could determine, with certainty, which candidates had a majority of votes 
of the other electors. 

" The committee are therefore of opinion that the first election is void, 
u well as the latter.*' 

On a motion made by Mr. Galloway, seconded by Mr. Macon, — 

" Resohert, Thit the Bill of Rights and Constitution of this state, the 
Articles of Confederation, the resolve of Congress of the 21st of Febru- 
ary, 1787, recommending a Convention of Delegates to meet at Philadcl- 
phii the second Monday in May, 1787, for the purpose of revising the 
said Articles of Confederation, together with the act of Assembly of this 
itite, passed at Fayetteville, the 6th day of January, 1787, entitled *An 
act for appointing deputies from this state to a Convention proposed to 
be held in the city of Philadelphia in May next, for the purpose of revis- 
ing the Federal Constitution ; ' as also the resolve of Congress of the 
2^h September last, accompanying the report of the Federal Convention, 
together with the said report, and the resolution of the last General As- 
sembly, be now read." 

The Bill of Rights and Constitution of this state, the Articles of Con- 
^deration, the act of Assembly of this state above referred to, and the 
res'>Iutioa of Congress of the 2Sth September last, were accordingly read. 

The honorable the president then laid before the Convention official 
accounts of the ratification of the proposed Federal Constitution by the 

4 DEBATES. [Iredell. 

states of Massachasetts and South Carolina ; which were ordered to be 
file^l with the secretary, subject to the perusal of the members 

Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY moved that the Constitution 
should be discussed clause by clause. 

Mr. WILLIE JONES moved that the Question upon the 
Constitution should be immediately put. He said that the 
Constitution had so long been the subject of the deliberation 
of every man in this country, and that the members of the 
Convention had had such ample opportunity to consider it, 
that he lielieved every one of them was prepared to give his 
vote then upon the question ; that the situation of the pub- 
lic funds would not admit of lavishing the public money, but 
required the utmost economy and frugality ; that, as there 
was a large representation from this state, an immediate de- 
cision would save the country a considerable sum of money. 
He thought it, therefore, prudent to put the question imme- 

He was seconded by Mr. PERSON, who added to the reasoning of Mr 
Jones, that he should be sorry if any man had come hither without ha? 
ing determined in his mind a question which must have been so long the 
object of his consideration. 

Mr. IREDELL then arose, and addressed the president 
thus : — 

Mr. President, I am very much surprised at the motion 
which has been made by the gentleman from Halifax. I am 
greatly astonished at a proposal to decide immediately, with- 
out the least deliberation, a question which is perhaps the 
greatest that ever was submitted to any body of men. There 
is no instance of any convention upon the continent, in 
which the subject has not been fully debated, except in those 
states which adopted the Constitution unanimously. If it 
be thought proper to debate at large an act of Assembly, 
trivial in its nature, and the operation of which may continue 
but a few months, are we to decide on this great and impor- 
tant question without a moment's consideration ? Are we 
to give a dead vote upon it? If so, I would wish to know 
why we are met together. If it is to be resolved now by 
dead votes, it would have been better that every elector, in- 
stead of voting for persons to come here, should, in their re- 
spective counties, have voted or ballotted for or against the 
Constitution. A decision by that mode would have been 
as rational and just as by this, and would have been better 
on economical principles, as it would have saved the public 
Che expense of our meeting here. 

Imdell., north CAROLINA. ^ 

This is a subject of great consideration. It is a Consti 
tutioQ which has been formed after much deliberation. It 
has had the sanction of men of the first characters for their 
probity and understanding. It has also had the solemn rati- 
fication of ten states in the Union. A Constitution like this, 
sir, ought not to be adopted or rejected in a moment. If, in 
consequence of either, we should involve our country in 
misery and distress, what excuse could we make for our con- 
duct? Is it reconcilable with our duty to our constituents? 
\Vould it be a conscientious discharge of that trust which 
they have so implicitly reposed in us ? Shall it be said, sir, 
of the representatives of North Carolina, that near three 
hundred of them assembled for the express purpose of de- 
liberating upon the most important question that ever came 
before a people, refused to discuss it, and discarded all rea- 
soning as useless ? It is undoubtedly to be lamented that any 
addition should be made to the public expense, especially at 
this period, when the public funds are so low ; but if it be 
ever necessary on any occasion, it is necessary on this, when 
the question perhaps involves the safety or ruin of our coun- 
try. For my own part, I should not choose to determine on 
any question without mature reflection ; and on this occa- 
sion, my repugnance to a hasty decision is equal to the mag- 
nitude of the subject. A gentleman has said, he should be 
sorry if any member had come here without having deter- 
mined in his mind on a subject he had so long considered. 
I should be sorry, sir, that I could be capable of coming to 
this house predetermined for or against the Constitution. I 
readily confess my present opinion is strongly in its favor. 
I have listened to every objection, that I had an opportunity 
of hearing, with attention, but have not yet heard any that I 
thought would justify its rejection, even if it had not been 
adopted by so many states. But notwithstanding this favor- 
able opinion I entertain of it, I have not come here resolved, 
at all events, to vote for its adoption. I have come here for 
information, and to judge, after all that can be said upon it, 
whether it really merits my attachment or not. My constit- 
uents did me the honor to elect me unanimously, without the 
least solicitation on my part. They probably chose me be- 
cause my sentiments were the same with their own. But 
highly as I value this honor, and much as I confess my am- 
bition prompted me to aspire to it, had I been told that I 


a DEBATES. [Ibbdeu. 

should not be elected unless I pronoised to obey their direc- 
tions, I should have disdained to serve on such dishonorable 
terms. Sir, I shall vote perfectly independent, and shall 
certainly avow a change of my present opinion, if I can be 
convinced it is a wrong one. I shall not, in such a case, be 
restrained by the universal opinion of the part of the country 
from which I came. I shall not be afraid to go back, and 
tell my constituents, "Gentlemen, I have been convinced I 
was in an error. I found, on consideration, that the opinion 
which I had taken up was ill founded, and have voted ac- 
cording to my sincere sentiments at the time, though con- 
trary to your wishes.'' I know that the honor and integrity of 
my constituents are such, that they would approve of my act- 
ing on such principles, rather than any other. They are the 
principles, however, I think it my duty to act upon, and 
shall govern my conduct. 

This Constitution ought to be discussed in such a manner 
that every possible light may be thrown upon it. If those 
gentlemen who are so sanguine in their opinion that it is a 
bad government will freely unfold to us the reasons on 
which their opinion is founded, perhaps we may all concur 
in it. I flatter myself that this Convention will imitate the 
conduct of the conventions of other states, in taking the 
best possible method of considering its merits, by debating 
it article by article. Can it be supposed that any gentle- 
men here are so obstinate and tenacious of their opinion, 
that they will not recede from it when they hear strong rea- 
sons offered ? Has not every gentleman. here, almost, received 
useful knowledge from a communication with others ? Have 
not many of the members of this house, when members of 
Assembly, frequently changed their opinions on subjects of 
legislation ? If so, surely a subject of so complicated a na- 
ture, and which involves such serious consequences, as this, 
requh'es the most ample discussion, that we may derive every 
information that can enable us to form a proper judgment. 
I hope, therefore, that we shall imitate the laudable example 
of the other states, and go into a committee of the whole 
house, that the Constitution may be discussed clause by 

I trust we shall not go home and tell our constituents that 
we met at Hillsborough, were afraid to enter into a discus- 
sion of the subject, but precipitated a decision viithout a 
moment's consideration. 


Mr. WILLIE JONES. Mr. President, my reasoji^ for 

proposing an immediate decision were, that I was prepared 

to give my vote, and believed that others were equally 

prepared as myself. If gentlemen differ from me in the 

propriety of this motion, I will submit. I agree with the 

geolleman that economical considerations are not of equal 

importance with the magnitude of the subject. He said that 

it nould have been better, at once, for the electors to vote 

in their respective counties than to decide it here without 

diseussioQ. Does he forget that the act of Assembly points 

out another mode ? 

Mr. IREDELL replied, that what he meant was, that 
the Assembly might as well have required that the electors 
should vote or ballot for or against the Constitution in their 
respective counties, as for the Convention to decide it in 
this precipitate manner. 

Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY. Mr. President, I had no 
supposition that the gentlemsm on my right (Mr. Jones) was 
afraid of a discussion. It is not so with me, nor do I be- 
lieve that it is so with any gentleman here. I do not like 
such reflections, and am surprised that gentlemen should 
make them. 

Mr. IREDELL declared that he meant not to reflect on 
any gentleman ; but, for his part, he would by no means 
choose to go home and tell his constituents that he had voted 
without any previous consideration. 

Afler some desultory conversation, the Convention adjourned till 
Uymorrow, iO o'clock. 

Thursday, July 24, 1788. 
The Convention met according to adjournment 

Rev. Mr. CALDWELL. Mr. President, the subject 
before us is of a complicated nature. In order to obviate 
the difficulty attending its discussion, I conceive that it will 
be necessary to lay down such rules or maxims as ought to 
be the fundamental principles of every free government : 
and after laying down such rules, to compare the Constitu- 
tion with them, and see whether it has attended to them ; 
for if it be not founded on such principles, it cannot be 
proper for our adoption. [Here he read those rules which 
he said appeared to him most proper.] 

Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY. Mr. President, I had thr 

8 DEBATES. [Datib 

honor yesterday of proposing the mode which I thought 
most eligible for our proceeding. I wish the subject to be 
fairly, coolly, and candidly discussed, that we may not go 
away without knowing why we came hither. My intention 
is, that we should enter into a committee of the whole house, 
where we shall be at liberty to discuss it. Though I do not 
object to the proposition of the honorable member, as the 
groundwork of our proceeding, I hope he will withdraw his 
motion, and I shall second him in the committee. 

Mr. CALDWELL had no objection to that proposition. 

Mr. PERSON op|X)sed the motion of entering into a 
committee. He conceived it would be a useless waste of 
time, as they would be obliged to reconsider the whole Con- 
stitution in Convention again. 

Mr. DAVIE largely expatiated on the necessity of en- 
tering into a committee. He said, that the legislature, in 
voting so large a representation, did not mean that they 
should go away without investigating the subject, but that 
their collective information should be more competent to a 
just decision ; that the best means was, to deliberate and 
( onfer together like plain, honest men. He did not know 
how the ardor of opposition might operate upon some gen- 
tlemen, yet he trusted that others had temper and modera- 
tion. He hoped that the motion of the member from Rock- 
ingham would be agreed to, and that the Constitution would 
be discussed clause by clause. He then observed, that, if they 
laid down a number of original principles, they must go 
through a double investigation ; that it would be necessary 
to establish these original principles, and compare them 
with the Constitution ; that it was highly improbable that 
they should agree on those principles ; that he had a respect 
for the understanding of the honorable member, and trusted 
he would reflect, that difference in opinion arose from the 
nature of things ; and that a great deal of time might be 
taken up to no purpose, if they should neither agree on those 
principles nor their application. He said, he hoped they 
would not treat this important business like a military en- 
terprise, but proceed upon it like a deliberative body, and 
that the debates would be conducted with decency and 

The Convention then resolved itself into a committee of the whole 
Uoiise, Mr. Elisha Battle in the chair. 

Caldwell.] NORTH CAROUNA. b 

Mr. CALDWELL. Mr. Chairman, those maxims whicii 
1 conceive to be the fundamental principles of every safe 
and free government, are — 1st. A government is a compact 
between the rulers and the people. 2d. Such a compact 
ought to be lawful in itself. 3d. It ought to be lawfully 
executed. 4th. Unalienable rights ought not to be given 
up, if not necessary. 3th. The compact ought to be mutual. 
And, 6th. It ought to be plain, obvious, and easily under- 
stood. Now, sir, if these principles be just, by comparing 
the Constitution with them, we shall be able to judge 
whether it is fit for our adoption. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I concur entirely in 
the sentiments lately urged by the gentleman from Halifax, 
and am convinced we shall be involved in very great diffi- 
culties if we adopt the principles offered by the gentleman 
from Guilford. To show the danger and impolicy of this 
proceeding, I think I can convince the committee in a mo- 
ment, that his very first principle is erroneous. In other 
countries, where the origin of government is obscure, and 
its formation different from ours, government may be deemed 
a contract between the rulers and the people. What is the 
consequence? A compact cannot be annulled but by the 
consent of both parties; therefore, unless the rulers are 
guilty of oppression, the people, on the principle of a com- 
pact, have no right to new-model their government. This 
is held to be the principle of some monarchical governments 
in Europe. Our government is founded on much nobler 
principles. The people are known with certainty to have 
originated it themselves. Those in power are their servants 
and agents; and the people, without their consent, may 
new-model their government whenever they think proper, 
not merely because it is oppressively exercised, but because 
they think another form will be more conducive to their 
welfare. It is upon the footing of this very principle that 
we are now met to consider of the Constitution before us. 
If we attempt to lay down any rules here, it will take us* as 
much time to establish their validity as to consider the system 

Mr. CALDWELL observed, that, though this government 
did not resemble the European governments, it still partook 
«/ the nature of a compact ; that he conceived those prin- 
ciples which he proposed to be just, but was willing that 

VDL. IV. 2 

10 DEBATES. [Irbdbll 

an J otheis, which should be thought better, should be sub- 
stituted in their place. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman has 
taken his principles from sources which cannot hold here. 
In England, the government is a compact between the king 
and the people. I hope it is not so here. We shall have 
no officers in the situation of a king. The people here are 
the origin of all power. Our governors are elected tempo 
rarily. We can remove them occasionally, and put others in 
their stead. We do not bind ourselves. We are to consider 
whether this system will promote our happiness. 

Mr. GOUDY. Mr. Chairman, I wonder that these gentle- 
men, learned in the law, should quibble upon words. I care 
not whether it be called a compact^ agreement^ covefiantj bar- 
gaijiy or what. Its intent is a concession of power, on the 
part of the people, to their rulers. We know that private 
interest governs mankind generally. Power belongs origin- 
ally to the people ; but if rulers be not well guarded, that 
power may be usurped from them. People ought to be 
cautious in giving away power. These gentlemen say there 
is no occasion for general nrles: every one has one for 
himself. Every one has an unalienable right of thinking 
for himself. There can be no inconvenience from laying 
down general rules. If we give away more power than we 
ought, we put ourselves in the situation of a man who puts 
on an iron glove, which he can never tadke off till he breaks 
his arm. Let us beware of the iron glove of tyranny. 
Power is generally taken from the people by imposing on 
their understanding, or by fetters. Let us lay down certain 
rules to govern our proceedings. It will be highly proper, in 
my opinion, and I very much wonder that gentlemen should 
object to it. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman who 
spoke last mistook what the gentleman from Wilmington 
and myself have said. In my opinion, there ought to be a 
line drawn, as accurately as possible, between the power 
which is given and that which is retained. In this system, 
the line is most accurately drawn by the positive grant of 
the powers of the general government. But a compact be- 
tween the rulers and the ruled, which gentlemen compare 
this government with, is certainly not the principle of our 
government. Will any man say that, if there be a compart, 


it can be altered without the consent of Ixyth parties ? Those 
who govern, unless they grossly abuse their trust, (which is 
held an implied violation of the compact, and therefore a 
dissolution of it,) have a right to say they do not choose the 
government should be changed. But have any of the officers 
of our government a right to say so if the people choose to 
chauge it ? Surely they have not. Therefore, as a general 
principle, it can never apply to a government where the 
people are avowedly the fountain of all power. I have no 
manner' of objection to the most explicit declaration that all 
power depends upon the people ; because, though it will not 
strengthen their rights, it may be the means of fixing them 
on a plainer foundation. One gentleman has said that we 
were quibbling upon words. If I know my own heart, I am 
incapable of quibbling on words. I act on as independent 
principles as any gentleman upon the floor. If I make use 
of quibbles, there are gentlemen here who can correct me. 

If my premises are w;rong, let them be attacked. If my 
conclusions be wrong, let me be put right. I am sorry that, 
in debating on so important a subject, it could be thought 
that we were disputing about words. I am willing to apply 
as much time as is necessary for our delil>erations. I have 
no objection to any regular way of discussing the subject ; 
but this way of proceeding will waste time, and not answer 
any pur|)ose. Will it not be in the power of any gentleman, 
in the course of the debates, to say that this plan militates 
against those principles which the reverend gentleman rec- 
ommends? Will it not be more proper to urge its incom- 
patibility with those principles during that dis<!Ussion, than 
to attempt to establish their exclusive validity previous to 
our entering upon the new plan of government? By the 
former mode, those rules and the Constitution may be con- 
sidered together. By the latter, much time may be wasted 
to no purpose. I trust, therefore, that the reverend gentle- 
man will withdraw his motion. 

Mr. RUTHERFORD. Mr. Chairman, I conceive those 
maxims will be of utility. I wish, as much as any one, to 
have a full and free discussion of the subject. To facilitate 
this desirable end, it seems highly expedient that some 
groandwork should be laid, some line drawn, to guide our 
proceedings. I trust, then, that the reverend gentleman'^ 
proposal will be agreed to. 

(2 DEBATES. [Person 

Mr. SPENCER. I conceive that it will retard the busi- 
ness to accede to the proposal of the learned gentleman. 
The observation which has been made in its behalf does not 
apply to the present circumstances. When there is a king 
or other governor, there is a compact between him and the 
people. It is then a covenant. But in this case, in regard 
to the government which it is proposed we should adopt, 
there are no governors or rulers, we being the people who 
possess all power. It strikes me that, when a society of 
free people agree on a plan of government, there are no 
governors in existence ; but those who administer the gov- 
ernment are their servants. Although several of those prin- 
ciples are proper, 1 hope they will not be part of one dis- 
cussion, but that every gentleman will consider and discuss 
the subject with all the candor, moderation, and deliberation, 
which the magnitude and importance of the subject require. 

Mr. CALDWELL observed, that he would agree that 
any other word should be substituted to the word compact; 
but, after all that had been said, the Constitution appeared 
to him to be of the nature of a compact. It could not be 
fully so called till adopted and put in execution; when so 
put in execution, there were actual governors in existence. 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. President, what we have already said 
may convince the reverend gentleman what a long time it 
will take us to discuss the subject in the mode which he 
has proposed : those few solitary propositions which he has 
put on paper, will make but a small part of the principles 
of this Constitution. I wish the gentleman to reflect how 
dangerous it is to confine us to any particular rules. This 
system is most extensive in its nature, involving not only 
the principles of governments in general, but the compli- 
cated principles of federal governments. We should not, 
perhaps, in a week lay down all the principles essential to 
such a Constitution. Any gentleman may, in the course of 
the investigation, mention any maxims he thinks proper, and 
compare them with the Constitution. It would take us more 
time to establish these principles, than to consider the Con- 
stitution itself. It will be wrong to tie any man's hands. 1 
hope the question will be put. 

Mr PERSON insisted on the propriety of the principles, 
and that tney ought to be laid on the table with the Dec- 
laration of Rights, Constitution of the state, and the Con- 


Mr LENOIR approved of the principles, but disapproved 
of being bound by any rules. 

Mr. 5IACLAINE was of the same opinion as to the im- 
propriety of iieins; bound. 

Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY wished to leave the hands of 
the members free, but he thought these principles were un- 
exceptionable. He saw no inconvenience in adopting them, 
and wished they would be agreed to. 

Mr. LENOIR answered, that the matter had been largely 
debated. He siiid, that he thought the previous question 
ought to be put, whether they should lay down certain prin- 
ciples to be governed by, or leave every man to judge as his 
own breast suggested. 

After some little altercation, the previous question was put 
— for the principles, 90 ; against them, 163 ; majority against 
them, 73. 

His excellency. Gov. JOHNSTON, then moved to discuss 
it by sections. This was opposed, because it would take up 
too much time. 

After some altercation about the mode of considering the 
Constitution, Mr. IREDELL arose, and spoke as follows : — 

Mr. President, whatever delay may attend it, a discussion 
is indispensable. We have been sent hither, by the people, 
to consider and decide this important business for them. 
This is a sacred trust, the honor and importance of which, I 
hope, are deeply impressed on every member here. We ought 
to discuss this Constitution thoroughly in all its parts. It 
was useless to come hither, and dishonorable, unless we dis- 
charge that trust faithfully. God forbid that any one of us 
should be determined one way or the other. I presume that 
every man thinks it his duty to hold his mind open to con- 
riction ; thu whatever he may have heard, whether against 
or for the Constitution, he will recede from his present 
opinion, if reasons of sufficient validity are offered. The 
gentleman from Granville has told us, that we had since 
March to consider it, and that he hoped every member was 
ready to give his vote upon it. 'Tis true, we have had since 
that time to consider it, and I hope every member has taken 
pains to inform himself. I trust they have conscientiously 
considered it ; that they have read on both sides of the ques- 
tion, and are resolved to vote according to the dictates of 
their consciences. I can truly say, that I believe there are few 

members in this house who have taken more pains to con- 


14 DEBATES. [Iredell 

sider it than myself. But I am still by no means confident 
that I am right. I have scarcely ever conversed on the sub- 
ject with any man of understanding, who has not thrown 
some new light upon the subject which escaped me i)efore. 
Those gentlemen who are so self-sufficient that they believe 
that they are never in the wrong, may arrogate infallibility to 
themselves, and conclude deliberation to be useless. For 
my part, 1 have often known myself to be in the wrong, and 
have ever wished to be corrected. There is nothing dis- 
honorable in changing an opinion. Nothing is more fallible 
than himian judgment. No gentleman will say that his is 
not fallible. Mine, I am sure, has often proved so. The 
serious importance of the subject merits the utmost atten- 
tion ; an erroneous decision may involve truly awful and 
calamitous consequences. It is incumbent on us, therefore, 
to decide it with the greatest deliberation. The Consti- 
tution is at least entitled to a regular discussion. It has had 
the sanction of many of the best and greatest men upon 
the continent — of those very men to whom, perhaps, we 
owe the privilege of debating now. It has also been adopted 
by ten states since. Is it prob:ible that we are less fallible 
than they are? Do we suppose our knowledge and wisdom 
to be su|)erior to their aggregate wisdom and information? 
I agree that this question ought to be determined on the 
footing of reason, and not on that of authority ; and if it 
be found defective and unwise, I shall be for rejecting it ; 
but it is neither decent nor right to refuse it a fair trial. A 
system supported by such characters merits at least a serious 
consideration. I hope, therefore, that the Constitution will 
be taken up paragraph by paragraph. It will then be in 
the power of any gentlemen to offer his opinion on every 
part, and by comparing it with other opinions, he may obtain 
useful information. If the Constitution be so defective as 
it is represented, then the inquiry will terminate in favor of 
those who oppose it. But if, as I believe and hope, it be 
discovered to be so formed as to be likely to promote the 
happiness of our country, then I hope the decision will be, 
accordingly, in its favor. Is there any gentleman so in- 
different to a union with our sister states, as to hazard dis- 
union rashly, without considering the consequences? Had 
my opinion been different from what it is, I am sure I 
should have hesitated and reflected a long time before I had 
offered it against such respectable authorities. 1 am sorry 


iur the exi)ense which may be incurred, when the community 
is so distressed ; but this is a trivial consideration compared 
to the consequences of a rash proceeding upon this impor- 
tant question. Were any member to determine against it 
without proper consideration, and afterwards, upon his return 
home, on an impartial consideration, to be convinced it was a 
good system, bis reflections on the temerity and precipitation 
of his conduct might destroy his peace of mind forever. I 
doubt not the members in general who condemn it, do so 
from a sincere belief that the system is a liad one ; but at 
the same time, I believe there are many who. are ready to 
relii^quish that opinion, if they can be convinced it is er- 
roneous, and that they sincerely wish for a fair and full dis- 
cussion of the subject. For these reasons I am of opinion 
that the motion made by the honorable member is proper to 
be adopted. 

Mr. RUTHERFORD was surprised at the arguments 
used by gentlemen, and wished to know how they should 
Fote, whether on the paragraphs, and how the report should 
be made when the committee rose. 

His excellency. Gov. JOHNSTON. If we reject any one 
part, we reject the whole. We are not to form a constitu- 
dou, but to say whether we shall adopt a Constitution to 
which ten states have already acceded. If we think it a 
bad government, it is not binding to us ; we can reject it. 
If it be proper for our adoption, we may adopt it. But 
a rejection of a single article will amount to a rejection of 
the whole. 

Mr. RUTHERFORD. The honorable gentleman has 
tttistaken me. Sorry I am that it is so late taken up by North 
Carolina, if we are to be influenced and persuaded in this 
manner. I am unhappy to hear gentlemen of learning and 
integrity f)reach up the doctrine of adoption by ten states 
Sir, it is my opinion that we ought to decide it as if no state 
had adopted it. Are we to be thus intimidated into a 
measure of which we may disapprove ? 

The question was then put, and carried by a great majority, to discuss 
(tte CoQstitution chuse by clause. 
The preamble of the Constitution was then read. 

Mr. CALDWELL. Mr. Chairman, if they mean, fVe, 
the people, — the people at large, — I conceive the expres- 
sion is improper. Were not they who framed this Constitu- 

16 D£BATES. [Davib 

tion the representatives of the legislatures of the different 
states ? In my opinion, they had no power, from the people 
at large, to use their name, or to act for them. They were 
not delegated for that purpose. 

Mr. MACLAINE. The reverend gentleman has told us, 
that the expression, fTe, the people, is wrong, because the 
gentlemen who framed it were not the representatives of the 
people. I readily grant that they were delegated by states. 
But they did not think that they were the people, but in- 
tended it for the people, at a future day. The sanction of 
the state legislatures was in some degree necessary. It was 
to be submitted by the legislatures to the people ; so that, 
when it is adopted, it is the act of the people. When it is 
the act of the people, their name is certainly proper. This 
is very obvious and plain to any capacity. 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman, the observation of the rev- 
erend gentleman is grounded, I suppose, on a supposition 
that the Federal Convention exceeded their powers. This 
objection has been industriously circulated ; but I believe, on 
a candid examination, the prejudice on which this error is 
founded will be done away. As I had the honor, sir, to be a 
member of the Convention, it may be expected I would 
answer an objection personal in its nature, and which con- 
tains rather a reflection on our conduct, than an objection 
to the merits of the Constitution. After repeated and de- 
cisive proofs of the total inefficiency of our general government, 
the Slates deputed the members of the Convention to revise 
and strengthen it. And permit me to call to your considera- 
tion that, whatever form of confederate government they 
might dense, or whatever powers they might propose to give 
this new government, no part of it was binding until the 
whole Constitution had received the solemn assent of the 
people. What was the object of our mission? "To decide 
upon the most eflfectual means of removing the defects of our 
federal union." This is a general, discretional authority to 
propose any alteration they thought proper or necessary. 
Were not the state legislatures afterwards to review our pro- 
ceedings ? Is it not immediately through their recommenda- 
tion that the plan of the Convention is submitted to the 
people ? And this plan must still remain a dead letter, or 
receive its operation from the fiat of this Convention. AI 
though the Federal Convention might recommend the con- 

Datie] north CAROLINA. 17 

cession of the most extensive powers, yet they could not put 
one of them into execution. What have the Convention 
done that can merit this species of censure ? They have 
odI) recommended a plan of government containing some 
additional powers to those enjoyed under the present feeble 
system ; amendments not only necessary, but which were the 
express object of the deputation. When we investigate 
this system candidly and accurately, and compare all its 
parts with one another, we shall find it absolutely necessary 
to confirm these powers, in order to secure the tranquillity of 
the states and the liberty of the people. Perhaps it would 
be necessary, to form a true judgment of this important 
question, to state some events, and develop some of those 
defects, which gave birth to the late Convention, and which 
have produced this revolution in our federal government. 
With the indulgence of the committee, I will attempt this 
detail with as much precision as I am capable of. The 
general objects of the union are, 1st, to protect us against 
foreign invasion ; 2d, to defend us against internal commo- 
tions and insurrections; 3d, to promote the commerce, agri- 
culture, and manufactures, of America. These objects are 
requisite to make us a safe and happy people, and they can- 
not he attained without a firm and efficient system of union. 

\s to the first, we cannot obtain any effectual protection 
from the present Confederation. It is indeed universally 
acknowledged, that its inadequacy in this case is one of its 
greitest defects. Examine its ability to repel invasion. In 
the late glorious war, its weakness was unequivocally experi- 
enced. It is well known that Congress had a discretionary 
right to raise men and money ; but they had no power to do 
either. In order to preclude the necessity of examining the 
whole progress of its imbecility, permit me to call to your 
recollection one single instance. When the last great stroke 
was made which humbled the pride of Britain, and put us in 
possession of peace and independence, so low were the 
finances and credit of the United States, that our army could 
not move from Philadelphia, until the minister of his most 
Chnstian majesty was prev:uled upon to draw bills to defray 
the expense of the expedition. These were not obtained 
on the credit or interest of Congress, but by the personal 
nfliience of the commander-in-chief. 

Had this great project miscarried, what fatal events might 

VOL. IV. 3 

18 DEBATES. [DAvit 

have ensued I It is a very moderate presumption, that what 
has once happened may happen again. The next important 
consideration, which is involved in the external powers of the 
Union, are treaties. Without a power in the federal govern- 
ment to compel the performance of our engagements with 
for(»ign nations, we shall be perpetually involved in de- 
structive wars. The Confederation is extremely defective in 
this point also. I shall only mention the British treaty as a 
siuisfactory proof of this melancholy fact. It is well known 
that, although this treaty was ratified in 1784, it required 
the sanction of a law of North Carolina in 1787; and that 
our enemies, presuming on the weakness of our federal 
government, have refused to deliver up several important 
|K)sts within the territories of the United States, and still 
liold them, to our shame and disgrace. It is unnecessary to 
reason on facts, the perilous consequences of which must in 
a mouH»nt strike every mind capable of reflection. 

The next head under which the general government may 
Im» considered, is the regulation of commerce. The United 
Statt^s should be empowered to compel foreign nations into 
eonnuercial regulations that were either founded on the prin- 
ciple's of justice or reciprocal advantages. Has the present 
( IcnUederation effected any of these things? Is not our 
ronunerce equally unprotected abroad by arms and negotia- 
ticui ? Nations have refused to enter into treaties with us. 
What was the language of the British court on a proposition 
of this kind? Such as would insult the pride of any man 
of fec^ling and independence. — "You can make engagements, 
bill yoii fiinnot compel your citizens to com[)ly with them. 
Wo derive greater profits from the present situation of your 
eoiiimeree than we could expect under a treaty; and you 
have no kind of power that can compel us to surrender any 
advantage to you." This was the language of our enemies ; 
and while our government remains as fc^eble as it has been, 
no nation will form any connection with us that will involve 
the relinquishment of the least advantage. What has been 
the eonse<|iienee ? A general decay of trade, the rise of im 
porttMl merchandise, the fall of produce, and an uncommon 
di»erenst» of the value of lands. Foreigners have been 
reaping the benefits and emoluments which our citizens 
ouf»ht to enjoy An unjustifiable perversion of justice has 
|H*rvaded almost all the states, and every thing presented to 

Datie.] north CAROLINA. 19 

our view a spectacle of public poverty and private wretch- 
edness ! 

While this is a true representation of our situation, can oui 
general government recur to the ordinary expedient of loans? 
During the late war, large sums were advanced to us by 
foreign states and individuals. Congress have not been 
enabled to pay even the interest of these debts, with honor 
and punctuality. The requisitions made on the states have 
been every where unproductive, and some of them have not 
paid a stiver. These debts are a part of the price of our 
liberty and independence — debts which ought to be re- 
garded with gratitude and discharged with honor. Yet 
many of the individuals who lent us money in the hour 
of our distress, are now reduced to indigence in conse- 
quence of our delinquency. So low and hopeless are the 
finances of the United States, that, the year before last. 
Congress were obliged to borrow money even to pay the 
interest of the principal which we had borrowed before. 
This wretched resource of turning interest into principal, is 
the most humiliating and disgraceful measure that a nation 
could take, and approximates with rapidity to absolute ruin. 
Yet it is the inevitable and certain consequence of such a 
system as the existing Confederation. 

There are several other instances of imbecility in that 
system. It cannot secure to us the enjoyment of our own 
territories, or even the navigation of gur own rivers. The 
want of power to establish a uniform rule for naturalization 
through the United States is also no small defect, as it must 
unavoidably be productive of disagreeable controversies with 
foreign natrons. The general government ought in this, as 
in every other instance, to possess the means of preserving 
the peace and tranquillity of the Union. A striking proof 
of the necessity of this power recently happened in Rhode 
Island : A man who had run off with a vessel and cargo, the 
property of some merchants in Holland, took sanctuary in 
that place : application was made for him as a citizen of the 
United Netherlands by the minister, but, as he had taken the 
oath of allegiance, the state refused to deliver him up, and 
protected him in his villany. Had it not been for the pecu- 
liar situation of the states at that time, fatal consequences 
might have resulted from such a conduct, and the contempt- 
ible state of Rhode Island might have involved the whole 
Uuion in a war. 

20 DEBATES. [DAvre. 

The encroachments of some states on the rights of others, 
and of all on those of the Confederacy, are incontestable 
proofs of the weakness and imperfection of that system. 
Maryland lately passed a law granting exclusive privileges 
to her own vessels, contrary to the Articles of the Confeder- 
ation. Congress had neither power nor influence to altei 
it ; all they could do was to send a contrary recommenda- 
tion. It is provided, by the 6th Article of the Confederation, 
that no compact shall be made between two or more states 
without the consent of Congress; yet this has been recently 
violated by Virginia and Maryland, and also by Pennsylvania 
and New Jersey. North Carolina and Massachusetts have 
had a considerable body of forces on foot, and those in this 
state raised for two years, notwithstanding the express pro- 
vision in the Confederation that no force should be kept up 
by any state in time of peace. 

As to internal tranquillity, — without dwelling on the un- 
happy commotions in our own back counties, — I will only add 
that, if the rebellion in Massachusetts had been planned and 
executed with any kind of ability, that state must have been 
ruined ; for Congress were not in a situation to render them 
any assistance. 

Another object of the federal union is, to promote the 
agriculture and manufactures of the states — objects in which 
we are so nearly concerned; Commerce, sir, is the nurse 
of both. The merchant furnishes the planter with such 
articles as he cannot manufacture himself, and finds him a 
market for his produce. Agriculture cannot flourish if com- 
merce languishes; they are mutually dependent on each 
other. Our commerce, as I have before observed, is unpro- 
tected abroad, and without regulation at home, and in this 
and many of the states ruined by partial and iniquitous laws 
— laws which, instead of having a tendency to protect prop- 
erty and encourage industry, led to the depreciation of the 
one, and destroyed every incitement to the other — laws 
which basely warranted and legalized the payment of just 
debts by paper^ which represents nothing, or property of 
very trivial value. 

These are some of the leading causes which brought 
forward this new Constitution. It was evidently necessary 
to infuse 'a greater portion of strength into the national gov 
ernment. But Congress were but a single body, with whom 
it was dangerous to lodge additional powers. Hence arose 


the necessity of a diflferent organization. In order to form 
some balance, the departments of government were separated, 
and as a necessary check, the legislative body was composed 
oftwo branches. Steadiness and wisdom are better insured 
when there is a second branch, to balance and check the first 
The stability of the laws will be greater when the popular 
branch, which might Jbe influenced by local views, or the 
violence of party, is checked by another, whose longer con- 
tinuance in office will render them more experienced, more 
temperate, and more competent to decide rightly. 

The Confederation derived its sole support from the state 
legislatures. This renderexl it weak and ineflectual. It 
was therefore necessary that the foundations of this govern- 
meat should be laid on the broad basis of the people. Yet 
the state governments are the pillars upon which this gov- 
ernment is extended over such an immense territory, and are 
essential to its existence. The House of Representatives 
are immediately elected by the people. The senators repre^ 
sent the sovereignty of the states ; they are directly chosen 
by the state legislatures, and no legislative act can be done 
without their concurrence. The election of the executive 
is in some measure under the control of the legislatures ot* 
the stales, the electors being appointed under their direction. 

The difference, in point of magnitude and importance, 
ui the members of the confederacy, was an additional 
reason for the division of the legislature into two branches, 
and for establishing an equality of suffrage in the Senate. 
The protection of the small states against the ambition and 
bfluence of the larger members, could only he effected by 
arming them with an equal power in one branch of the legis- 
lature. On a contemplation of this matter, we shall find 
that the jealousies of the states could not be reconciled any 
other way. The lesser states would never have concurred 
unless this check had been given them, as a security for their 
political existence, against the power and encroachments of 
the great states. It may be also proper to observe, that the 
executive is separated in its functions from the legislature, 
as well as the nature of the case would admit, and the ju- 
diciary from both. 

Another radical vice in the old system, which was neces^ 
sary to be corrected, and which will be understood without 
a long deduction of reasoning, was, that it legislated on 
^t<!9, iD^ead of individuals ; and that its powers could not 


be nxecuted but by fire or hy the sword — by military force, 
and not by the intervention of the civil magistrate. Every 
one who is acquainted with the relative situation of the 
states, and the genius of our citizens, must acknowledge 
that, if the government was to be carried into effect by 
military force, the most dreadful consequences would ensue. 
It. would render the citizens of America the most implacable 
enemies to one another. If it could be carried into effect 
against the small states, yet it could not be put in force 
against the larger and more powerful states. It was there- 
fore absolutely necessary that the influence of the magistrate 
should be introduced, and that the laws should be carried 
home to individuals themselves. 

In the formation of this system, many difficulties presented 
themselves to the Convention. 

Every member saw that the existing system would ever 
be ineffectual, unless its laws operated on individuals, as 
military coercion was neither eligible nor practicable. Their 
own experience was fortified by their knowledge of the in- 
herent weakness of all confederate governments. They 
knew that all governments merely federal had been short- 
lived, or had existed from principles extraneous from their 
constitutions, or from external causes which had no depend- 
ence on the nature of their governments. These consid- 
erations determined the Convention to depart from that 
solecism in politics — the principle of legislation for states 
in their political capacities. 

The great extent of country appeared to some a formida- 
ble difficulty ; but a confederate government appears, at 
least in theory, capable of embracing the various interests of 
the most extensive territory. Founded on the state govern- 
ments solely, as I have said before, it would be tottering and 
inefficient. It became, therefore, necessary to bottom it on 
the people themselves, by giving them an immediate interest 
and agency in the government. There was, however, some 
real difficulty in conciliating a number of jarring interests, 
arising from the incidental but unalterable diflerence in the 
states in point of territory, situation, climate, and rivalshij) 
in commerce. Some of .the states are very extensive, others 
very limited : some are manufacturing states, others merely 
agricultural: some of these are exporting states, while the 
carrying and navigation business are in the possession of 
others. It was not easy to reconcile such a multiplicity ot 


discordant and clashing interests. Mutual concessions \^ *re / 
necessary to come to any concurrence. A plan that would 
promote the exclusive interests of a few states would be m- 
lurious to others. Had each state obstinately insisted on ^ 
the security of its particular local advantages, we should 
never have come tasi conclusion. Each, therefore, amicably 
and wisely relinquished its particular views. The Federal 
Convention have told you, that the Constitution which they 
formed " was the result of a spirit of amity, and of tha\ 
mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of ^ , 
their political situation rendered indispensable." I hope the 
same laudable spirit will govern this Convention in their 
decision on this important question. 

The business of the Convention was to amend the Con- 
federation by giving it additional powers. The present form 
of Congress being a single body, it was thought unsafe to 
augment its powers, without altering its organization. The 
act of the Convention is but a mere proposal, similar to the 
production of a private pen. I think it a government which, 
if adopted, will cherish and protect the happiness and liberty 
of America; but I hold my mind open to conviction. I 
am ready to recede from my opinion if it be proved to he 
ill-founded. I trust that every man here is equally ready to 
change an opinion he may have improperly formed. The 
\veakness and inefficiency of the old Confederation produced 
the necessity of calling the Federal Convention. Their plan 
is now before you;. and I hope, on a deliberate consideration, 
everv man will see the necessitv of such a system. It has 
been the subject of much jealousy and censure out of doors. 
I hope gentlemen will now come forward with their objec- 
tions, and that they will be thrown out and answered with 
candor and moderation. 

Mr. CALDWELL wished to know why the gentlemen 
who were delegated by the states, styled themselves fVcj 
(he people. He said that he only wished for information. 

Mr. IREDELL answered, that it would be easy to satisfy 
the gentleman ; that the style, fVe^ the people, was not to 
^ applied to the members themselves, but was to be the 
St vie of the Constitution, when it should be ratified in their 
respective states. 

Mr. JOSEPH TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, the very 
Hording of this Constitution seems to carry with it an 

Z4 DEBATES. [Maclaine. 

assumed power. fTe, the people^ is surely an assumed 
power. Have they said, We, the delegates of the people ? 
it seems to me that, when they met in Convention, ihey 
assumed more power than' was given them. Did the people 
give them the power of using their name ? This power was 
in the people. They did not give it up to the members of 
the Convention. If, therefore, they had not this power, they 
assumed it. It is the interest of every man, who is a friend 
to liberty, to oppose the assumption of power as soon as 
possible. I see no' reason why they assumed this pow^r. 
Matters may be carried still farther. This is a consolidation 
of all the states. Had it said, We^ the states^ there would 
have been a federal intention in it. But, sir, it is clear that 
a consolidation is intended. Will any gentleman say that a 
consolidated government will answer this country ? It is 
too large. The man who has a large estate cannot manage 
it with convenience. I conceive that, in the present case, 
a consolidated government can by no means suit the genius 
of the people. The gentleman from Halifax (Mr. Davie) 
mentioned reasons for such a government. They have their 
weight, no doubt ; but at a more ccmvenient time we can 
show their futility. We see plainly that men who come 
from New England are different from us. They are igno- 
rant of our situation ; they do not know the state of our 
country. They cannot with safety legislate for us. I am 
astonished that the servants of the legislature of North 
Carolina should go to Philadelphia, and, instead of speaking 
of the state of North Carolina, should speak of the people. 
I wish to stop power as soon as possible ; for they- may carry 
their assumption of power to a more dangerous length. I 
wish to know where they found the power of saying We^ 
tlie people, and of consolidating the states. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, I confess myself as- 
tonished to hear objections to the preamble. They say that 
the delegates to the Federal Convention assumed powers 
which were not granted them; that they ought not to have 
used the words fVe, the people. That they were not the 
delegates of the people, is universally acknowledged. The 
Constitution is only a mere proposal. Had it been binding 
on us, there might be a reason for objecting. After they 
had finished the plan, they proposed that it should be 
recommended to the people by the several state legislatures 


If the people approve of it, it becomes their act. Is not this 
merely a dispute about words, without any meaning what 
ever? Suppose any gentleman of this Convention had 
drawn up this government, and we thought it a good one ; 
we might respect his intelligence and integrity, but It would 
Bot be binding upon us. We might adopt it if we thought 
it a proper system, and then it would be our act. Suppose 
it had been made by our enemies, or had dropped from the 
cloiids ; wt: might adopt it if we found it proper Tor our 
adopcion. By whatever means we found it, it would be our 
act as soon as we adopted it. It is no more than a blank 
till it be adopted by the people. When thnt is done here, 
is it not the people of the state of North Carolina that do it, 
joiued with the people of the other states who have adopted 
it? The expression is, then, right. But the gentleman 
has gone farther, and says that the people of New England 
are different from us. This goes against the Union alto- 
gether. They are not to legislate lor us ; we are to be 
represented as well as they. Such a futile objection strikes 
at all union. We know that without union we should not 
hare been debating now. 1 hope to hear no more objections 
of this trifling nature, but that we shall enter into the spirit 
of the subject at once. 

Mr. CALDWELL observed, that he only wished to 
fcttow why they had assumed the name of the people. 

Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY. Mr. Chairman, I trust we 
shall not take up more time on this point. I shall just make 
a few remarks on what has been said by the gentleman from 
Halifax. He has gone through our distresses, and those of 
the other states. As to the weakness of the Confederation, 
we all know it. A sense of this induced the different states 
to send delegates to Philadelphia. They had given them 
certain powers; we have seen them, they are now upon the 
taWe. The result of their deliberations is now upon the 
table also. As they have gone out of the line which the 
states pointed out to them, we, the people, are to take it up* 
and consider it. The gentlemen who framed it have ex- 
ceeded their powers, and very far. They will be able, 
perhaps, to give reasons for. so doing. If they can show us 
ar reasons, we will, no doubt, take notice of them. But, 
on the other hand, if our civil and religious liberties are not 
«cured, and pMper checks piovided, we hare the p^wer in 
VOL. IV. 4 8 

iti* DEBATES. [Johnston 

our own hands to do with it as we think proper. I hope 
gentlemen will permit us to proceed. 

The clerk then read the 1st section of the 1st article. 

Mr. CALDWELL. Mr. Chairman, I am sorry to be 
objecting, but I apprehend that all the legislative powers 
granted by this Constitution are not vested in a Congress 
consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives, 
because the Vice-President has a right to put a check on it. 
This is known to every gentleman in the Convention. How 
can all the legislative powers granted in that Constitution be 
vested in the Congress, if the Vice-President is to have a vote 
in case the Senate is equally divided ? I ask for information, 
how it came to be expressed in this manner, when this power 
is given to the Vice-President. 

Mr. MACLAINE declared, that he did not know what 
the gentleman meant. 

Mr. CALDWELL said, that the Vice-President is made 
a part of the legislative body, although there was an express 
declaration, that all the legislative powers were vested in 
the Senate and House of Representatives, and that he 
would be glad to know how these things consisted together. 

Mr. MACLAINE expressed great astonishment at the 
gentleman's criticism. He observed, ibat the Vice-Presi- 
dent had only a casting vote in case of an equal division in 
the Senate — that a provision of this kind was to be found 
in all deliberative bodies — that it was highly useful and ex- 
pedient — that it was by no means of the nature of a check 
which impedes or arrests, but* calculated to prevent the oper- 
ation of the government from being impeded — that, if the 
gentleman could show any legislative power to be given to 
any but the two houses of Congress, his objection would be 
worthy of notice. 

Some other gentlemen said, they were dissatisfied with 
Mr. Machine's explanation — that the Vice-President was 
not a member of the Senate, but an officer of the United 
States, and yet had a legislative power, and that it appeared 
to them inconsistent — that it would have been more proper 
to have given the casting vote to the President. 

His excellency. Gov. JOHNSTOiN, added to Mr. Mac- 
hine's reasoning, that it appeared to him a very good and 
proper regulation — that, if one of the Senate was to be ap- 
|K)inted Vice-President, the state which he represented would 

Maclaine.! north CAROLINA 21 

either lose a vote if he was not permitted to vote ou everj^ 
occasion, or if he was, he might, in some instances, have two 
votes — that the President was already possessed of the 
power of preventing the passage of a law by a bare majority ; 
vet laws were said not to be made by the President, but by 
the two houses of Congress exclusively. 

Mr. LENOIR. Mr. Chairman, I have a greater objec- 
tion on this ground than that which has just been mentioned. 
I mean, sir, the legislative power given to the President 
himself. It may be admired by some, but not by me. He, 
sir, with the Senate, is to make treaties, which are to be the 
supreme law of the land. This is a legislative power given 
to the President, and implies a contradiction to that part 
which says that all legislative power is vested in the two 

Mr. SPAIGHT answered, that it was thought better 
to put that power into the hands of the senators as rep- 
resentatives of the states — that thereby the interest of 
every state was equally attended to in the formation of trea- 
ties — but that it was not considered as a legislative act 
at all. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, this is an objection 
against the inaccuracy of the sentence. I humbly conceive 
it will appear accurate on a due attention. After a bill is 
passed by both houses, it is to be shown to the President. 
Within a certain time, he is to return it. If he disapproves 
of it, he is to state his objections in writing ; and it depends 
on Congress afterwards to say whether it shall be a law or 
Dot. Now, sir, I humbly apprehend that, whether a law 
passes by a bare majority, or by two thirds, (which are re- 
quired to concur after he shall have stated objections,) what 
gives active operation to it is, the will of the senators and 
representatives. The President has no power of legislation. 
If he does not object, the law passes by a bare majority; and 
if he objects, it passes by two thirds. His power extends 
only to cause it to be reconsidered, which secures a greater 
probability of its being good. As to his power with respect 
to treaties, I shall offer my sentiments on it wjien we come 
properly to it. 

Mr. MACLAINE intimated, that if any gentleman was 
out of order,* it was the gentleman from Wilkes (Mr. Le- 

Somethinfr Had been said aboot order which was not distinctly heard 


noir) — that treaties were the supreme law of the land in 
all countries, for the most obvious reasons — that laws, or 
legislative acts, operated upon individuals, but that treaties 
acted upon states — that, unless they were the supreme law 
of the land, they could have no validity at all — that the 
President did not act in this case as a legislator, but rather 
in his executive capacity. 

Mr. LENOIR replied that he wished to be conformable 
to the rules of the house ; but he still thought the President 
was possessed of legislative powers, while he could make 
treaties, joined with the Senate. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I think the gentleman 
is in order. When treaties are made, they become as valid 
as legislative acts. I apprehend that every act of the gov- 
ernment, legislative, executive, or Judicial, if in pursuance 
of a constitutional power, is the law of the land. These dif- 
ferent acts become the acts of the state by the instrumen- 
tality of its officers. When, for instance, the governor of 
this stale grants a pardon, it becomes the law of the land, 
and is valid. Every thing is the law of the land, let it 
come from what power it will, provided it be consistent with 
the Constitution. 

Mr. LENOIR answered, that that comparison did not 

Mr. IREDELL continued. If the governor grants a par- 
don, it becomes a law of the land. Why ? Because he has 
power to grant pardons by the Constitution. Suppose this 
Constitution is adopted, and a treaty made ; that treaty is 
the law of the land. Why? Because the Constitution grants 
the power of making treaties. 

Several members expressed dissatisfaction at the inconsistency (as they 
conceived it) of the expressions, when — 

Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY observed, that their obser- 
vations would be made more properly when they come 
TO that clause which gave the casting vote to the Vice-Presi- 
dent, and the qualified negative to the Pn^sident. 

The first three clauses of the 2d section read. 

Mr. MACliAINE. Mr. Chairman, as many objections 
have been made to biennial elections, it will be necessary to 
obviate them. J beg leave to state their superiority to an- 
nual elections. Our elections have been annual for some 
years. People are apt to be attached to old customs. An 

Maclainb.1 north CAROUNA. 29 

Dual elections may be proper in our state governments, but 
not in the general government. The seat of government is 
at a considerable distance; and in case of a disputed election 
it would be so long before it could be settled, that the statt 
H^oiild be totally without representation. There is another 
Reason, still more cogent, to induce us to prefer biennial to 
Annual elections. The objects of stale legislation are narrow 
dnd confined, and a short time will render a man sufficiently 
acquainted with them ; but those of the general government 
are infinitely more extensive, and require a much longer time 
to comprehend them. The representatives to the general 
government must l>e acquainted not only with the internal 
situation and circumstances of the United States, but also 
with the state of our commerce with foreign nations, and 
our relative situation to those nations. They must know 
the relative situation of those nations to one another, and bt 
able to judge with which of them, and in what manner, our 
commerce should be regulated. These are good reasons to 
extend the time of elections to two years. I believe you 
remember, — and perharps every member here remembers, — 
that this country was very happy under biennial elections. 
In North Carolina, the representatives were formerly chosen 
by bidlot biennially. It was changed under the royal gov- 
ernment, and the mode pointed out by the king. Notwith- 
standing the contest for annual elections, perhaps biennial 
elections would still be better for this country. Our laws 
would certainly be less fluctuating. 

Mr. SHEPPERD observed, that he could see no pro- 
priety in the friends of the new system making objections, 
when none were urged by its opposers; that it was very 
uncommon for a man to make objections and answer them 
himself; and that it would take an immense time to men- 
tion every objection which had been mentioned in the 

Mr. MACLAINE. It is determined already by the Con- 
vention to debate the Constitution section by section. Are 
we then to read it only ? Suppose the whole of it is to be 
passed over without saying any thing;- will not that amount 
to a dead vote ? Sir, I am a member of this Convention * 
and if objections are made here, I will answer them to the 
l)est of my ability. If I see gentlemen pass by in silence 
snch parts as they vehemently decry out of doors, or such 

511 DEBATES. [Davie. 

part.s as have l)een loudly complained of in the country, 1 
shall answer them also. 

After some desultory conversation, Mr. WILLIE JONES 
observed, that he would easily put the friends of the Con- 
stitution in a way of discussing it. Let one of them, said 
he, make objections and another answer them. 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman, I hope that reflections ot 
a personal nature will be avoided as much as possible. What 
is there in this business should make us jealous of each 
other .'^ We are all come hither to serve one common cause 
of one country. Let us go about it openly and amicably. 
There is no necessity for the employment of underhanded 
means. Let every objection be made. Let us examine the 
plan of government submitted to us thoroughly. Let us 
deal with each other with candor. I am sorry to see so 
much impatience so early in the business. 

Mr. SHEPPERD answered, that he spoke only because 
he was averse to unnecessary delays, and that he had no 
finesse or design at all. 

Mr. RUTHERFORD wished the system to be thoroughly 
discussed. He hoped that he should be excused in making 
a few observations, in the Convention, after the commit- 
tee rose, and that he trusted gentlemen would make no 

Mr. BLOODWORTH declared, that every gentleman 
had a right to make objections in both cases, and that he 
was sorry to hear reflections made. 

Mr. GOUDY. Mr. Chairman, this clause of taxation 
will give an advantage to some states over the others. It 
will be oppressive to the Southern States. Taxes are equal 
to our representation. To augment our taxes, and increase 
our burdens, our negroes are to be represented. If a state 
has fifty thousand negroes^ she is to send one representative 
for them. I wish not to be represented with negroes, espe- 
cially if it increases my burdens. 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman, I will endeavor to obviate 
what the gentleman last up said. I wonder to see gentle- 
men so precipitate a'nd hasty on a subject of such awful 
importance. It ought to be considered, that some of us are 
<low of apprehension, or not having those quick conceptions, 
and luminous understandings, of which other gentlemen may 
ne j)ossessed. The gentleman "does not wish to be repre 

Spaight.] north CAROLINA. 31 

sented with negroes." This, sir, is an unhappy species of 
population; but we cannot at present alter their situation. 
The Eastern States had great jealousies on this subject. 
They insisted that their cows and horses were equally en- 
titled to representation ; that the one was property as well 
as the other. It became our duty, on the other hand, to 
acquire as much weight as possible in the legislation of the 
Union ; and, as the Northern States were more populous in 
wrhites, this only could be done by insisting that a certain 
proportion of our slaves should make a part of the computed 
population. It was attempted to form a rule of representa- 
tion from a compound ratio of wealth and population ; but, 
on consideration, it was f^und impracticable to determine 
the comparative value of lands, and other property, in so ex- 
tensive a territory, with any degree of accuracy ; and popu- 
lation alone was adopted as the only practicable rule or 
criterion of representation. It was urged by the deputies 
of the Eastern States, that a representation of two fifths 
would be of little utility, and that their entire representation 
would be unequal and burdensome — that, in a time of war, 
slaves rendered a country more vulnerable, while its defence 
devolved upon its free inhabitants. On the other hand, we 
insisted that, in time of peace, they contributed, by their 
lalx)r, to the general wealth, as well as other members of the 
community — that, as rational beings, they had a right of 
representation, and, in some instances, might be highly use- 
ful in war. On these principles the Eastern States gave the 
matter up, and consented to the regulation as it has been 
read. I hope these reasons will appear satisfactory. It is 
the same rule or principle which was proposed some yeafs 
ago by Congress, and assented to by twelve of the states. 
It may wound the delicacy of the gentleman from Guilford, 
(Mr. Goudy,) but I hope he will endeavor to accommodate 
his feelings to the interest and circumstances of his country. 
Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY said, that he did not object 
to the representation of negroes, so much as he did to the 
fewness of the number of representatives. He was surprised 
how we came to have but five, including those intended to 
represent negroes. That, in his humble opinion. North 
Carolina was entitled to that number independent of the 
Mr. SPAIGHT endeavored to satisfy him, that the Con- 

SZ DEBATES. [Iredell. 

vention had no rule to go hy in this case — that they could 
not proceed upon the ratio mentioned in the Constitution 
till the enumeration of the people was made — that some 
states had made a return to Congress of their numbers, and 
others had not — that it was mentioned that we had had 
time, but made no return — that the present number was 
only temporary — that in three years the actual census would 
l>e taken, and our number of representatives regulated ac- 

His excellency. Gov. JOHNSTON, was perfectly satis- 
fied with the temporary number. He said that it could 
not militate against the people of North Carolina, because 
they paid in proportion; that no great inconvenience could 
happen, in three years, from their paying less than their full 
projX)rtion ; that they were not very flush of money, and that 
he hoped for better times in the course of three years. 

The rest of the 2d section read. 

Mr. JOSEPH TAYLOR objected to the provision made 
for impeaching. He urged that there could be no security 
from it, as the persons accused were triable by the Senate, 
who were a part of the legislature themselves ; that, while 
men were fallible, the senators were liable to errors, especially 
in a case where they were concerned themselves. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I was going to observe 
that this clause, vesting the power of impeachment in the 
House of Representatives, is one of the greatest securities 
for a due execution of all public offices. Every government 
requires it. Every man ought to be amenable for his con- 
duct, and there are no persons so proper to complain of the 
public officers as the representatives of the people at large. 
The representatives of the people know the feelings of the 
people at large, and will be ready enough to make com- 
plaints. If this power were not provided, the consequences 
might be fatal. It will be not only the means of punishing 
misconduct, but it will prevent misconduct. A man in pub- 
lic office who knows that there is no tribunal to punish him, 
may be ready to deviate from his duty ; but if he knows 
there is a tribunal for that purpose, although he may be a 
man of no principle, the very terror of punishment will per- 
haps deter him. I beg leave to mention that every man has 
a right to express his opinion, and point out any part of the 
Constitution which he either thinks defective, or has heard 

JoawsToif.l NORTH CAROLINA. 33 

represented to be so. What will be the consequence if they 
who have objections do not think proper to commuQicato 
ihem, and they are not to be mentioned by others ? Many 
gentlemen have read many objections, which perhaps have 
made impressions on their minds, though they are not com- 
municated to us. I therefore apprehend that the member 
was perfectly regular in mentioning the objections made out 
of doors. Such objections may operate upon the minds of 
gentlemen, who, not being used to convey their ideas in 
public, conceal them out of diffidence. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH wished to be informed, whether 
this sole power of impeachment, given to the House of Rep- 
resentatives, deprived the state of the power of impeaching 
any of its members. 

Mr. SPAIGHT answered, that this impeachment ex- 
tended only to the officers of the United States — that it 
would be improper if the same body that impeached had 
the power of trying — that, therefore, the Constitution had 
wisely given the power of impeachment to the House of 
Representatives, and that of try'mg impeachments to the 

Mr. JOSEPH TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, the objection 
is very strong. If there be but one body to try, where are 
we ? If any tyranny or oppression should arise, how are 
those who perpetrated such oppression to be tried and pun- 
ished ? By a tribunal consisting of the very men who assist 
ia such tyranny. Can any tribunal be found, in any com- 
munity, who will give judgment against their own actions? 
is it the nature of man to decide against himself ? I am 
obliged to the worthy member from New Hanover for assist- 
mg me with objections. None can impeach but the repre- 
sentatives ; and the impeachments are to be determined by 
the senators, who are one of the branches of |K)wer which 
We dread und(*r this Constitution. 

His excellency. Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, the 
worthy member from Granville surprises me by his objection. 
It h:is been explained by another member, that only officers 
of the United States were impeachable. I never knew any 
itistance of a man being impeached for a legislative act ; nay, 
1 never heard it suggested before. No member of the House 
3f Commons, in England, has ever been impeached before 
the Lords^ nor any lord, for a legislative mlsdemeaoor. A 

VOL. IV. 6 

S4 DEBATES. [Maclaine 

representative is answerable to no power but his constituents. 
He is accountable to no being under heaven but the people 
who appointed him. 

. Mr. TAYLOR replied, that it now appeared to him in a 
still worse light than before. 

Mr. BLOOD WORTH observed, that as this was a Con- 
stitution for the United States, he should not have made the 
observation he did, had the subject not been particularly 
mentioned — that the words "sole power of impeachment" 
were so general, and mie;ht admit of such a latitude of con- 
struction, as to extend to every legislative member upon the 
continent, so as to preclude the representatives of the dif- 
ferent states from impeaching. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, if I understand the 
gentleman rightly, he means that Congress may impeach all 
the people or officers of the United States. If the gentle- 
man will attend, he will see that this is a government for 
confederated states ; that, consequently, it can never inter- 
meddle where no power is given. I confess I can see no more 
reason to fear in this case than from our own General As- 
sembly. A power is given to our own state Senate to try 
impeachments. Is it not mjcessary to point out some tribu- 
nal to try great offences ? Should there not be some mode 
of punishment for the offences of the officers of the general 
government ? Is it not necessary that such officers should 
be kept within proper bounds? The officers of the United 
States are excluded from offices of honor, trust, or profit, 
under the United States, on impeachment for, and convic- 
tion of, high crimes and misdemeanors. This is certainly 
necessary. This exclusion from offices is harmless in com- 
parison with the regulation made, in similar cases, in our own 
government. Here it is expressly provided how far the 
punishment shall extend, and that it shall extend no farther. 
On the contrary, the limits are not marked in our own Con- 
stitution, and the punishment may be extended too far. I 
believe it is a certain and known fact, that members of the 
legislative body are never, as such, liable to impeachment, 
but are punishable by law for crimes and misdemeanors in 
their personal capacity. For instance ; the members of As- 
sembly are not liable to impeachment, but, like other people, 
are amenable to the law for crimes and misdemeanors com- 
nntted as individuals. But in Congress, a member of either 
house can be no officer. 


Gov. JOHNSTON, Mr. Chairman, I find that making 
objections is useful. I never thought of the objection made 
bv the member from New Hanover. I never thought that 
impeachments extended to any but officers of the United 
States. When you look at the judgment to be given on im- 
peachments, you will see that the punishment goes no far- 
ther than to remove and disqualify civil officers of the United 
States, who shall, on impeachment, be convicted of high 
misdemeanors. Removal from office is the punishment — 
to which is added future disqualification. How could a man 
be removed from office who had no office ? An officer of 
this state is not liable to the United States. Congress could 
not disqualify an officer of this state. No body can dis- 
qualify, but that body which creates. We have nothing to 
apprehend from that article. We are perfectly secure as to 
this point. I should laugh at any judgment they should give 
against any officer of our own. 

Mr. BLOOD WORTH. From the complexion of the 
paragraph it appeared to me to be applicable only to officers 
of the United States; but the gentleman's own reasoning 
convinces me that he is wrong. He says he would laugh at 
them. Will the gentleman laugh when the extension of 
their powers takes place ? It is only by our adoption they can 
have any power. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, the argument of the 
gentleman last up is founded upon misapprehension. Every 
article refers to its particular object. We must judge of ex- 
pressions from the subject matter concerning which they are 
used. The sole power of impeachment extends only to 
objects of the Constitution. The Senate shall only try im- 
peachments arising under the Constitution. In order to 
confirm and illustrate that position, the gentleman who spoke 
before explained it in a manner perfectly satisfactory to my 
apprehension — "under this Constitution." What is^he 
meaninjr of these words? They signify those arising under 
the government of the United States. When this govern- 
ment is adopted, there will be two governments to which we 
shall owe obedience. To the government of the Union, in 
cprt:iin defined cases — to our own state government in every 
other case. If the general government were to disqualify 
nie from any office which I held in North Carolina under its 
'aws, [ wc aid refer to the Constitution, and say that they 

36 DEBATES. ' [SpAiiiHT 

violated it, as it only extended to officers of the United 

Mr, JJLOODWORTH. The penalty is only removal 
from office. It does not mention from what office. 1 do 
not see any thing in the expression that convinces me tha^ 
1 was mistaken. I still consider it in the same light. 

Mr. PORTER wished to be informed, if every officer, 
who was a creature of that Constitution, was to be tried by 
the Senate — whether such officers, and those who had com- 
plaints against them, were to go from the extreme parts 
of the continent to the seat of government, to adjust dis- 

Mr. DAVIE answered, that impeachments were confmed 
to cases under the Constitution, but did not descend to petty 
offices ; that if the gentleman meant that it would be trouble- 
some and inconvenient to recur to the federal courts in case 
of oppressions by officers, and to carry witnesses such great 
distances, he would satisfy the gentleman, that Congress 
would remove such inconveniences, as they had the power 
of appointing inferior tribunals, where such disputes would 
be tried. 

Mr. J. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, I conceive that, if 
this Constitution be adopted, we shall have a large number 
of officers in North Carolina under the appointment of Con- 
gress. We shall undoubtedly, for instance, have a great 
number of tax-gatherers. If any of these, officers shall do 
wrong, when we come to fundamental principles, we find 
that we have no way to punish them but by going to Con- 
gress, at an immense distance, whither we must carry our 
witnesses. Every gentleman must see, in these cases, that 
oppressions will arise. I conceive that they cannot be tried 
elsewhere. I consider that the Constitution will be ex- 
plained by the word " sole." If they did not mean to retain 
a general power of impeaching, there was no occasion for 
saying the " sole power." I consider therefore that oppres- 
sions will arise. If I am oppressed, I must go to the House 
of Representatives to complain. I consider that, when man- 
kind are about to part with rights, they ought only to part 
with those rights which they can with convenience relin- 
quish, and not such as must involve them in distresses. 

In answer to Mr. Taylor, Mr. SPAIGHT observed that, 
though the power of impeachment was given, yet it did noi 


say that there was no other manner of giving redress — thai 
it was very certain and clear that, if any man was injured 
by an officer of the United States, he could get redress by a 
suit at law. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, I confess I never heard 
before that a tax-gatherer was worthy of impeachment. It 
is one of the meanest and least offices. Impeachments are 
only for high crimes and misdemeanors. If any one is in- 
jured in his person or property, he can get redress by 
a suit at law. Why does the gentleman talk in this man- 
ner ? It shows what wretched shifts gentlemen are driven 
to. I never heard, in my life, of such a silly objection. 
A poor, insignificant, petty officer amenable to impeach- 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, the objection would be 
right if there was no other mode of punishing. But it is 
evident that an officer may be tried by a court of common 
law. He may be tried in such a court for common-law 
offences, whether impeached or not. As it is to be presumed 
that inferior tribunals will be constituted, there will be no 
occasion for going always to the Supreme Court, even in 
cases where the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. 
Where this exclusive cognizance is not given them, redress 
mav be had in the common-law courts in the state : and I 
have no doubt such regulations will be made as will put it 
out of the power of officers to distress the people with 

Gov. JOHNSTON observed, that men who were in very 
high offices could not be come at by the ordinary course of 
justice ; but when called before this high tribunal and con- 
victed, they would be stripped of their dignity, and reduced 
to the rank of iheir fellow-citizens, and then the courts of 
common law might proceed against them. 

Friday, Jiu/y 25, UW 

The Convention met according to adjournment. 

Mr. BATTLE in the chair. 1st article of the 3d sec- 
tion read. 

Mr. CABARRUS wished to be informed of the reason 
why the senators were to be elected for so long a time. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I have waited for some 

time in hopes that a gentleman better qualified than myself 


i5i DEBATES. [Iredell 

would explain this part. Every objection to every part 
of this Constitution ought to be answered as fully as pos- 

I believe, sir, it was the general sense of all America, 
with the exception only of one state, in forming their own 
state constitutions, that the legislative body should he divid- 
ed into two branches, in order that the people might have 
a double security. It will often happen that, in a single 
body, a bare majority will carry exceptionable and pernicious 
measures. The violent faction of a party may often form 
such a majority in a single body, and by that means the 
particular views or interests of a part of the community may 
be consulted, and those of the rest neglected or injured. Is 
there a single gentleman in this Convention, who has been 
a member of the legislature, who has not found the minority 
in the most important questions to be often right ? Is there 
a man here, who has been in either house, who has not at 
some times found the most solid advantages from the coop- 
eration or opposition of the other ? If a ineasure be right, 
which has been approved of by one branch, the other will 
probably confirm it ; if it be wrong, it is fortunate that there 
is another branch to oppose or amend it. These principles 
probably formed one reason for the institution of a Senate, 
in the form of government before us. Another arose from 
the peculiar nature of that government, as connected with 
the government of the particular states. 

The general government will have the protection and 
management of the general interests of the United States. 
The local and particular interests of the different states are 
left to their respective legislatures. All affairs which con- 
cerA this state only an? to be determined by our represent- 
atives coming from all parts of the state ; all affairs which 
concern the Union at large are to be determined by repre- 
sentatives coming from all parts of the Union. Thus, then, 
the general government is to be taken care of, and the state 
governments to be preserved. The former is done by a nu- 
merous representation of the people of each state, in propor- 
tion to its importance% The latter is effected by giving each 
state an equal representation in the Senate. The people 
will be represented in one house, the state legislatures in the 

Many are of the opinion that the power of the Senate is 

Iredell.] NORTH CAROLINA. 3^ 

too great ; but I cannot think so, considering the great weight 
which the House of Representatives will have. Several rea- 
sons may be assigned for this. The House of Representatives 
will be more numerous than the Senate. They will represent 
the immediate interests of the people. They will originate 
all money bills, which is one of the greatest securities in any 
republican government. The respectability of their constitu- 
ents, who are the free citizens of America, will add great 
weight to the representatives ; for a power derived from the 
people is the source of all real honor, and a demonstration 
of confidence which a man of any feeling would be more 
ambitious to possess, than any other honor or any emolument 
whatever. There is, therefore, always a danger of such a 
house becoming too powerful, and it is necessary to counter- 
act its influence by giving great weight and authority to the 
other. I am warranted by well-known facts in my opinion 
that the representatives of the people at large will have more 
weight than we should be induced to believe from a slight 

The British government furnishes a very remarkable in- 
stance to my present purpose. In that country, sir, is a 
king, who is hereditary — a man, who is not chosen for his 
abilities, but who, though he may be without principles or 
abilities, is by birth their sovereign, and may impart the vices 
of his character to the government. His influence and 
)ower are so great, that the people would bear a great deal 
)efore they would attempt to resist his authority. He is 
one coniplete branch of the legislature — may make as many 
peers as he pleases, who are immediately members of another 
branch ; he has the disposal of almost all offices in the king- 
dom, commands the army and navy, is head of the church, 
and has the means of corrupting a large proportion of the 
representatives of the people, who form the third branch of 
the legislature. The House of Peers, which forms the 
second branch, is composed of members who are hereditary, 
and, except as to money bills, (which they are not allowed 
either to originate or alter,) hath equal authority with the 
other house. The members of the House of Commons, who 
are considered to represent the people, are elected for seven 
years, and they are chosen by a small proportion of the peo- 
ple, and, I believe I may say, a large majority of them by 
actual corruption. Under these circumstances, one would 

40 DEBATES. [Ikedgll 

suppose their influence, compared to that of the king and the 
lords, was very inconsiderable. But the fact is, that they have, 
by degrees, increased their power to an astonishing degree, 
and, when they think proper to exert it, can command 
almost any thing they please. This great power they enjoy, 
by having the name of representatives of the people, and the 
exclusive right of originating money bills. What authority, 
then, will our representatives not |)ossess, who will really 
represent the people, and equally have the right of originat- 
ing money bills ? 

The manner in which our Senate is to be chosen gives us an 
additional security. Our senators will not be chosen by a 
king, nor tainted by his influence. They are to be chosen 
by different legislatures in the Union. Each is to choose 
two. It is to be supposed that, in the exercise of this power, 
the utmost prudence and circumspection will be observed. 
We may presume that they will select two of the most 
respectable men in the state, two men who had given the 
strongest proofs of attachment to the interests of their country. 
The senators are not to hold estates for life in the legisla- 
ture, nor to transmit them to their children. Their families, 
friends, and estates, will be pledges for their fidelity to their 
country. Holding no office under the United States, they 
will be under no temptation of that kind to forget the 
interest of their constituents. There is every probability 
that men elected in this manner will, in general, do their 
duty faithfully. It may be expected, therefore, that they 
will cooperate in every laudable act, but strenuously resist 
those of a contrary nature. To do this to effect, their sta- 
tion must have some permanency annexed to it. 

As the representatives of the people may probably be more 
popular, and it may l)e sometimes necessary for the Senate 
to prevent factious measures taking place, which may be 
highly injurious to the real interests of the public, the Senate 
should not be at the mercy of every popular clamor. Men 
engaged in arduous affairs are often obliged to do things 
which may, for the present, be disapproved of, for want of 
. full information of the case, which it is not in every man's 
\ power immediately to obtain. In the mean time, every one 
is eager to judge, and many to condemn ; and thus many 
an action is for a time unpopular, the true policy and justice 
of which afterwards very plainly appear. These observa- 

Ibedell-I north CAROLINA. 41 

fions apply even to acts of legislation concerning domestic 
policy : they apply much more forcibly to the case of foreign 
negotiations, which will form one part oi the business of the 
Senate. I hope we shall not be involved in the labyrinths 
of foreign politics. But it is necessary for us to watch th^ 
conduct of European powers, that we may be on our defence 
and ready in case of an attack. All these things will re- 
quire a continued attention ; and, in order to know whether 
they were transacted rightly or not, it must take up a con- 
siderable time. 

A certain permanency in office is, in my opinion, useful 
for another reason. Nothing is more unfortunate for a na- 
tion than to have its affairs conducted in an irregular man- 
ner. Consistency and stability are necessary to render the 
laws of any society convenient for the people. If they were 
to be entirely conducted by men liable to be called away 
soon, we might be deprived, in a great measure, of their 
utility ; their measures might be abandoned before they were 
fully executed, and others, of a less beneficial tendency, sub- 
stituted in their stead. The public also would be deprived 
of that experience which adds so much weight to the great- 
est abilities. 

The business of a senator will require a great deal of 
knowledge, and more extensive information than can be 
acquired in a short time. This can be made evident by 
facts well known. I doubt not the gentlemen of this house, 
who have been members of Congress, will acknowledge that 
they have known several instances of men who were mem- 
bers of Congress, and were there many months before they 
knew how to act, for want of information of the real state 
of the Union. The acquisition of full information of this 
kind must employ a great deal of time; since a general 
knowledge of the affairs of all the states, and of the relative 
situation of foreign nations, would be indispensable. Re 
sponsibility, also, would be lessened by a short duration ; for 
many useful measures require a good deal of time, and con- 
tinued operations, and no man should be answerable for the 
ill success of a scheme which was taken out of his hands by 

For these reasons, I hope it will appear that six years are 
not too long a duration for the Senate. I hope, also, it will 
he thought that, so far from being injurious to the liberties 

VOL. IV. 6 

4J; DEBATES. [Datib 

and interest of the public, it will form a i additional securit}' 
to K)ih, especially when the next clause is taken up, hy 
which we shall see that one third of the Senate is to go out 
every second year, and two thirds must concur in the most 
important cases ; so that, if there be only one honest man 
among the two thirds that remain, added to the one third 
which has recently come in, this will be sufficient to prevent 
the rights of the })eople being sacrificed to any unjust ambi- 
tion of that body. 

I was in hopes some other gentleman would have ex- 
plained this paragraph, because it introduces an entire change 
m our system ; and every change ought to be founded on good 
reasons, and those reasons made plain to the people. Had 
my abilities been greater, I should have answered the oljjec- 
tion better. I have, however, done it in the best manner in 
my power, and I hope the reasons I have assigned will be 
satisfactorv to the committee. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, a gentleman yester- 
day made some objections to the power of the Vice-Presi- 
dent, and insisted that he was possessed of le«iislative powers; 
that, in case of equality of voice in the Senate, he had the 
deciding vote, and that of course he, and not the Senate 
legislated. I confess I was struck with astonishment at such 
an objection, especially as it came from a gentleman of 
character. As far as my understanding goes, the Vice-Presi- 
dent is to have no acting part in the Senate, but a mere 
casting vote. In every other instance, he is merely to pre- 
side in the Senate in order to regulate their deliberations. 
I think there is no danger to be apprehended from him in 
particular, as he is to be chosen in the same manner with 
the President, and therefore may be presumed to possess a 
great share of the confidence of all the states. He has been 
called a useless officer. I think him very useful, and I think 
the objection very triffing. It shows the uniform opposi- 
tion gentlemen are determined to make. It is very easy to 
cavil at the finest government that ever existed. 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman, I will state to the commit- 
tee the reasons upon which this officer was introduced. I 
had the honor to observe to the committee, before, the causes 
of the particular formation of the Senate — that it was owing, 
with other reasons, to the jealousy of the states, and, par- 
ncularly, to the extreme jealousy of the lesser states of the 



Maclainb.] north CAROLINA. 45 

jKiWer and influence of the larger members of the con- 
federacy. It was in the Senate that the several political 
interests of the states were to be preserved, and where all 
their powers were to be perfectly balanced. The com- 
mercial jealousy between the Eastern and Southern States 
had a principal share in this business. It might happen, ir. 
important cases, that the voices would be equally divided 
Indecision might be dangerous and inconvenient to the pub- 
lic. It would then be necessary to have some person who 
should determine the question as impartially as possible. 
Had the Vice-President been taken from the representation 
of any of the states, the vote of that state would have been 
under local influence in the second. It is true he must be ^ 
chosen from some state ; but, from the nature of his election 
and oflice, he represents no one state in particular, but all 
the states. It is impossible that any officer could be chosen ^' 
more impartially. He is, in consequence of his election, the 
creature of no particular district or state, but the offic(!r and 
representative of the Union. He must possess the con- 
fidence of the states in a very great degree, and consequent- ^ 
ly be the most proper person to decide in cases of this kind. 
These, I believe, are the principles upon which the Conven- 
tion formed this officer. 
6th clause of the 3d section read. 

Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY wished gentlemen to ofler 
their objections. That they must have made objections to 
it, and that they ought to mention them here. 

Mr. JOHN BLOUNT said, that the sole power of im- 
peachment had been objected to yesterday, and that it was 
urged, officers were to be carried from the farthest parts of 
the states to the seat of government. He wished to know if 
gentlemen were satisfied. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr Chairman, I have no inclination 
to get up a second time, h\ t some gentlemen think this sub- 
ject ought to be taken notice of. I recollect it was men- 
tioned by one gentleman, that petty officers might be im- 
peached. It appears to me, sir, to be the most horrid 
ignorance to suppose that every officer, however trifling his 
office, is to be impeached for every petty offence ; and that 
every man, who should be injured by such petty officers, 
could get no redress but by this mode of impeachment, at 
the seat of government, at the distance of several hundred 

44 DEBATES. [Maclaine. 

miles, whither he would lie obliged to summon a great num- 
l)er of witnesses. I hope every gentleman in this commit- 
tee must see plainly that imjieachments cannot extend to 
inferior officers of the United States. Such a construction 
cannot be supported without a departure from the usual and 
well-known practice both in England and America. But 
this clause empowers the House of Representatives, which is 
the grand inquest of the Union at large, to bring great 
offenders to justice. It will lie a kind of state trial for high 
crimes and misdemeanors. I rememl)er it was objected 
yesterday, that the House of Representatives had the sole 
power of impeachment. The word " sole " was supposed 
to be so extensive as to include impeachable offences against 
particular states. Now, for my part, I can see no impro- 
priety in the expression. The Word relates to the general 
objects of the Union. It can only refer to offences against 
the United States ; nor can it be tortured so as to have any 
other meaning, without a perversion of the usual meaning 
of language. The House of Representatives is to have the 
sole power of impeachment, and the Senate the sole power 
of trying. And here is a valuable provision, not to be found 
in other governments. 

In England, the Lords, who try impeachments, declare 
solemnly, upon honor, whether the persons impeached be 
guilty or not. But here the senators are on oath. This is 
a very happy security. It is further provided, that, when 
the President is tried, (for he is also liable to be impeached,) 
the chief justice shall preside in the Senate ; because it 
might be supposed that the Vice-President might be con- 
nected, together with the President, in the same crime, and 
would therefore be an improper person to judge him. It 
would be improper for another reason. On the removal ol 
the President from office, it devolves on the Vice-President. 
This being the case, if the Vice-President should be judge, 
might he not look at the office of President, and endeavor to 
influence the Senate against him ? This is a most excellent 
caution. It has been objected by some, that the President 
is in no danger from a trial by the Senate, because he does 
nothing without its concurrence. It is true, he is expressly 
restricted not to make treaties without the concurrence of 
two thirds of the senators present, nor ap[x)int officers with- 
out the concurrence of the Senate, (not requiring two ^irds.'i 

Taflor.] north CAROLLNA. 46 

The concurrence of all the senators, however, is not re- 
quired in either of those cases. They may be all present 
when he is impeached, and other senators in the mean timt- 
introduced The chief justice, we ought to presume, would 
not countenance a collusion. One dissenting person might 
divulge their misbehavior. Besides, he is impeachable for 
his own misdemeanors, and as to their concurrence with him, 
it niight be effected by misrepresentations of his own, in 
which case they would be innocent, though he be guilty. I 
think, therefore, the Senate a very proper body to try him. 
Notwithstanding the mode pointed out for impeaching and 
trying, there is not a single officer but may be tried and 
indicted at common law ; for it is provided, that a judgment, 
in cases of impeachment, shall not extend farther than to 
removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy 
any office of honor, trust, or profit, under the United States; 
but the party convicted shall, nevertheless, be liable and 
subject to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment, ac* 
cording to law. Thus you find that no offender can escape 
the danger of punishment. Officers, however, cannot be 
oppressed by an unjust decision of a bare majority ; for it 
further provides, that no person shall be convicted without 
the concurrence of two thirds of the members present; so 
that those gentlemen who formed this government have been 
particularly careful to distribute every part of it as equally 
as possible. As the government is solely instituted for the 
United States, so the power of impeachment only extends 
to officers of the United States. The gentleman who is so 
much afraid of impeachment by the federal legislature, is 
totally mistaken in his principles. 

Mr. J. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, my apprehension is, 
that this clause is connected with the other, which gives the 
sole power of impeachment, and is very dangerous. When 
I was ofTering an objection to this part, I observed that it 
was supposed by some, that no impeachments could l)e pre- 
ferred but by the House of Representatives. I concluded 
that perhaps the collectors of the United States, or gatherers 
of taxes, might impose on individuals in this country, and 
that these individuals might think it too great a distance to 
go to the of federal government to get redress, and would 
therefore be injured with impunity. I observed that there 
were some gentlemen, whose abilities are great, who con- 

46 DEBATES. [Maclaink. 

strue it in a difierent manner. They ought to be kind 
enough lo carry their construction not to the mere letter, hut 
to the meaning. I observe, that, when these great men are 
met in Congress, in consequence of this power, they will 
have the power of appointing all the officers of the United 
States. My experience in life shows me that the friends of 
the members of the legislature will get the offices. These 
senators and members of the House of Representatives will 
appoint their friends to all offices. These officers will be 
great men, and they will have numerous deputies under 
them. The receiver-general of the taxes of North Carolina 
must be one of the greatest men in the country. Will he 
come to me for his taxes ? No. He will send his deputy, 
who will have special instructions to oppress me. How am 
I to be redressed ? I shall be told that I must go to Con- 
gress, to get him impeached. This being the case, whom 
am I to impeach ? A friend of the representatives of North 
Carolina. For, unhappily for us, these men will have too 
much weight for us ; they will have friends in the govern- 
ment who will be inclined against us, and thus we may be 
oppressed with impunity. 

I was sorry yesterday to hear personal observations drop 
from a gentleman in this house. If we are not of equal 
ability with the gentleman, he ought to possess charity to- 
wards us, and not lavish such severe reflections upon us in 
such a declamatory manner. 

These are considerations I offer to the house. These op- 
pressions may be committed by these officers. I can see no 
mode of redress. If there be any, let it be pointed out. 
As to personal aspersions, with respect to me, I despise them. 
Let him convince me by reasoning, but not fall on detraction 
or declamation. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, if I made use of any 
asperity to that gentleman yesterday, I confess I am sorry for 
it. It was because such an observation came from a gentle- 
man of his profession. Had it come from any other gentle- 
man in this Convention, who is not of his profession, I 
should not be surprised. But I was surprised that it should 
come from a gentleman of the law, who must know the con- 
trary perfectly well. If his memory had failed him, he mij^ht 
have known by consulting his library. His l)ooks would 
have told him that no petty officer was ever impeachable 

Maclainb.] north CAROLINA. 47 

tVhen such trivial, ill-founded objections were advanced, by 
persons who ought to know better, was it not sufficient to ir- 
ritate those who were determined to decide the question by 
a regular and candid discussion ? 

Wliether or not there will be a receiver-general in North 
Carolina, if we adopt the Constitution, I cannot take upon 
uiyself to say. I cannot say how Congress will collect their 
money. It will depend upon laws hereafter to be made. 
These laws will extend to other states as well as to us. 
Should there be a receiver-general in North Carolina, he 
certainly will not be authorized to oppress the people. His 
deputies can have no power that he could not have himself. 
As all collectors and other officers will he bound to act ac- 
bording to law, and will, in all probability, be obliged to give 
security for iheir conduct, we may expect they will not dare 
to oppress. The gentleman has thought proper to lay it 
down as a principle, that these receivers-general will give 
special orders to their deputies to oppress the people. The 
President is the superior officer, who is to see the laws put 
in execution. He is amenable for any maladministration in 
his office. Were it possible to suppose that the President 
should give wrong instructions to his deputies, whereby the 
citizens would be distressed, they would have redress in the 
ordinary courts of common law. But, says he, parties in- 
jured must go to the seat of government of the United States, 
and get redress there. I do not think it will be necessary 
to go to the seat of the general government for that purpose. 
No persons will be obliged to attend there, but on extraordi- 
nary occasions; for Congress will form regulations so as to 
render it unnecessary for the inhabitants to go thither, but 
on such occasions. 

My reasons for this conclusion are these : I look upon it 
as the interest of all the people of America, except those in 
the vicinity of the seat of government, to make laws as easy 
as [X)ssible for the people, with respect to local attendance. 
Tlioy will not agree to drag their citizens unnecessarily six 
or seven hundred miles from their homes. This would be 
equally inconvenient to all except those in the vicinity ol* 
the seat of government, and therefore will be prevented 
But, says the gentleman from Granville, what redress have 
we when we <jo to that place ? These great officers will be 
the friends of the representatives of North Carolina. It is 

i8 DEBATES. [Maclains. 

possible they may, or they may not. They have the power 
to appoint officers for each state from what place they please. 
It is probable they will appoint them out of the state in 
which they are to act. I will, however, admit, for the sake 
of argument, that those federal officers who will be guilty 
of misdemeanors in this state will be near relations of the 
representatives and senators of North Carolina. What then ? 
Are they to be tried by them only ? Will they be the near 
friends of the senators and representatives of the other stait s ? 
If not, his objection goes for nothing. I do not understand 
what he says about detraction and declamation. My char- 
acter is well known. I am no declaimer ; but when 1 see a 
gentleman, ever so respectable, betraying his trust to the 
public, I will publish it loudly ; and I say this is not detrac* 
tion or declamation. 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, impeachment is very 
different in its nature from what the learned gentleman from 
Granville supposes it to be. If an officer commits an offence 
against an individual, he is amenable to the courts of law. 
If he commits crimes against the state, he may be indicted 
and punished. Impeachment only extends to high crimes 
and misdemeanors in a public office. It is a mode of trial 
pointed out for great misdemeanors against the public. But 
I think neither that gentleman nor any other person need 
be afraid that officers who commit oppressions will pass with 
impunity. It is not to be apprehended that such officers 
will be tried by their cousins and friends. Such cannot be 
on the jury at the trial of the cause ; it being a principle of 
law that no person interested in a cause, or who is a rela- 
tion of the party, can be a juror in it. This is the light in 
which it strikes me. Therefore the objection of the gentle- 
man from Granville must necessarily fall to the ground on 
that principle. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, I must obviate some 
objections which have been made. It was said, by way of 
argument, that they could impeach and remove any officer, 
whether of the United States or any particular state. This 
was suggested by the gentleman from New Hanover. Noth- 
ing appears to me more unnatural than such a construction. 
The Constitution says, in one place, that the House of Rep- 
resentatives shall have the sole power of impeachment. In 
the clauses under debate, it provides that the Senate shal 


have the sole power to try all impeachments, and then sub- 
joins, that judgment, in cases of impeachment, shall not 
extend further than to removal from office, and disqualifi 
cation to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit, 
under the United States. And in the 4th section of the 2(1 
article, it says that the President, Vice-President, and all 
civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from of- 
fice on i.npeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, 
or other high crimes and misdemeanors. 

Now, sir, what can be more clear and pbvious than this ? 
The several clauses relate to the same suhject, and ou^ht to 
be considered together. If considered separately and un- 
connectedly, the meaning is still clear. They relate to the 
government of the Union altogether. Judgment on im- 
peachment only extends to removal from office, and future 
disqualification to hold offices tinder the United States. Can 
those be removed from offices, and disqualified to hold offices 
under the United States, who actually held no office undiT 
the United States ? The 4th section of the 2d article pro- 
vides expressly for the removal of the President, Vice-Pres- 
ident, and all civil officers of the United States, on impeach- 
ment and conviction. Does not this clearly prove that none 
but officers of the United States are impeachable ? Had 
any other been impeachable, why was not provision made 
for the case of their conviction ? Why not point out the 
punishment in one case as well as in others ? I heg leave 
to observe, that this is a Constitution which is not made 
with any ref(5rence to the government of any particular state, 
or to officers of particular states, but to the government of 
the United States at large. 

We must suppose th it every officer here spoken of must 
be an officer of the United States. The words discover 
the meaning as plainly as possible. The sentence which 
provides that "judgment, in cases of impeachment, shall 
not extend further than to removal from office," is joined by 
H conjunction copulative to the other sentence, — "and dis- 
qualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or 
profit, under the United States," — which incontrovertibly 
proves that officers of the United States only are referred to. 
No other grammatical construction can be put upon it. 
But there is no necessity to refer to grammatical construc- 
tions, since the whole plainly refers to the government oi 

VOL. IV. 7 5 

50 DEBATES. [Spbncsb. 

the United Stales at large. The general government can- 
not intermeddle with the internal affairs of the state govern- 
ments. They are in no danger from it. It has been urged 
that it h:is a tendency to a consolidation. On the contrary, it 
appears that the state legislatures must exist in full force, 
otherv/ise the general government cannot exist itself. A 
consolidated government would never secure the happiness 
of the people of this country. It would be the interest of 
the people of the United States to keep the general and in- 
dividual governments as separate and distinct as possible. 

Mr. BLOOD WORTH. Mr. Chairman, I confess I am 
obliged to the honorable gentleman for his construction. 
Were he to go to Congress, he might put that construction 
on the Constitution. But no one can say what construction 
Congress will put upon it. I do not distrust him, but I 
distrust them. I wish to leave no dangerous latitude of 

The 1st clause of the 4th section read. 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, it appears to me that 
chis clause, giving this control over the time, place, and 
manner, of holding elections, to Congress, does away the 
right of the people to choose the representatives every sec- 
ond year, and impairs the right of the state legislatures to 
choose the senators. I wish this matter to be explained. 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chuirman, I confess that I am 
a very great admirer of the new Constitution, but I cannot 
comprehend the reason of this part. The reason urged is, 
that every government ought to have the power of continu- 
ing itself, and that, if the general government had not this 
power, the state legislatures might neglect to regulate elec- 
tions, whereby the government might be discontinued. As 
long as the state legislatures have it in their power not to 
choose the senators, this power in Congress appears to me 
altogether useless, because they can put an end to the gen- 
cTal government by refusing to choose senators. But I do 
not consider this such a blemish in the Constitution as that 
it ought, for that reason, to be rejected. I observe that ev-' 
cry state which has adopted the Constitution, and recom- 
mended amendments, has given directions to remove this 
objection ; and I hope, if this state adopts it, she will do 
th(» same. 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, it is with great relnc- 


tance that I rise upon this important occasion. I have con- 
sidered with some attention the subject before us. I have 
paid attention to the Constitution itself, and to the writings 
on both sides. I considered it on one side as well as on the 
other, in order to know whether it would be best to adopi 
it or not. I would not wish to insinuate any reflections on 
those gentlemen who formed' it. I look upon it as a great 
performance. It has a great deal of merit in it, and it is, 
perhaps, as much as any set of men could have done. Even 
if it be true, what gentlemen have observed, that the gen- 
tlemen who were delegates to the Federal Convention were 
not instructed to form a new constitution, but to amend the 
Confederation, this will be immaterial, if it be proper to 
be adopted. It will be of equal benefit to us, if proper to 
be adopted in the whole, or in such parts as will be neces- 
sary, whether they were expressly delegated for that purpose 
or not. This appears to me to be a reprehensible clause ; 
because it seems to strike at the state legislatures, and seems 
to take away that power of elecitons which reason dictates 
they ought to have among themselves. It apparently looks 
forward to a consolidation of the government of the United 
States, when the state legislatures may entirely decay 

This is one of the grounds which have induced me to 
make objections to the new form of government. It ap- 
pears to me that the state governments are not sufficiently 
secured, and that they may be swallowed up by the great 
mass of powers given to Congress. If that be the case, 
such power should not be given ; for, from all the notions 
which, we have concerning our happiness and well-being, 
the state governments are the basis of our happiness, secu- 
rity, and prosperity. A large extent of country ought to be 
divided into such a number of states as that the people may 
conveniently carry on their own government. This will 
render the government perfectly agreeable to the genius 
and wishes of the people. If the United States were to 
consist of ten times as many states, they might all have a 
degree of harmony. Nothing would be wanting but some 
cement for their connection. On the contrary, if all the 
Inited States were to be swallowed up by the great mass 
of powers given to Congress, the parts that are more dis- 
tant in this great empire would be governed with less and 


less energy. It would not suit the genius of the people to 
assist in the government. Nothing would support govern- 
ment, in such a case as that, but military coercion. Armies 
would be necessary in different parts of the United States. 
The expense which they would cost, and the burdens which 
they would render necessary to be laid upon the people, 
would be ruinous. I know of no way that is likely to pro- 
duce the happiness of the people, but to preserve, as far as 
possible, the existence of the several states, so that they 
shall not be swallowed up. 

It has been said that the existence of the state govern 
ments is essential to that of the general government, because 
they choose the senators. By this clause, it is evident that 
it is in the power of Congress to make any alterations, ex- 
cept as to the place of choosing senators. They may alter 
the time from six to twenty years, or to any time ; for they 
have an unlimited control over the time of elections. They 
have also an absolute control over the election of the repre- 
sentatives. It deprives the people of the very mode of 
choosing them. It seems nearly to throw the whole power 
of election into the hands of Congress. It strikes at the 
mode, time, and place, of choosing representatives. It puts 
all but the place of electing senators into the hands of Con- 
gress. This supersedes the necessity of continuing the state 
legislatures. This is such an article as I can give no sanc- 
tion to, because it strikes at the foundation of the govern- 
ments on which depends the happiness of the states and the 
general government. It is with reluctance I make the ob- 
jection. I have the highest veneration for the characters of 
the framers of this Constitution. I mean to make objections 
only which are necessary to be made. I would not take up 
time unnecessarily. As to this matter, it strikes at the foun- 
dation of every thing. I may say more w^hen we come to 
that part which points out the mode of doing without the 
agency of the state legislatures. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I am glad to see so 
much candor and moderation. The liberal sentiments ex- 
pressed by the honorable gej^tleman who spoke last com- 
mand my respect. No time can be better employed than in 
endeavoring to remove, by fair and just reasoning, every ob- 
jection which can be made to this Constitution. I appre- 
hend that the honorable gentleman is mistaken as to the 


extent of the operation of this clause. He supposes that the 
control of the general government over elections looks for* 
ward to a consolidation of the states, and that the general 
word time may extend to twenty, or any number of years. 
In my humble opinion, this clause does by no means warrant 
such a construction. We ought to compare other parts with 
it. Does not the Constitution say that representatives shah 
be chosen every second year ? The right of choosing them, 
therefore, reverts to the people every second year. No in* 
strument of writing ought to be construed absurdly, when a 
rational construction can be put upon it. If Congress can 
prolong the election to any time they please, why is it said 
that representatives shall be chosen every second year? 
They must be chosen every second year ; but whether in the 
month of March, or January, or any other month, may be 
ascertained, at a future time, by regulations of Congress. 
The word time refers only to the particular month and day 
within the two years. I heartily agree with the gentleman, 
(hat, if any thing in this Constitution tended to the annihila- 
tion of the state government, instead of exciting the admira- 
tion of any man, it ought to excite the resentment and 
execration. No such wicked intention ought to be suffered. 
But the gentlemen who formed the Constitution had no such 
object; nor do I think there is the least ground for that, 
jealousy. The very existence of the general government 
depends on that of the state governments. The state legisla- 
tures are to choose the senators. Without a Senate there 
can be no Congress. The state legislatures are also to direct 
the manner of choosing the President. Unless, therefore, 
there are state legislatures to direct that manner, no Presi- 
dent can be chosen. The same observation may be made 
as to the House of Representatives, since, as they are to be 
chosen by the electors of the most numerous branch of each 
state legislature, if there are no state legislatures, there are 
no persons to choose the House of Representatives. Thus 
it is evidi»nt that the very existence of the general govern- 
ment depends on that of the state legislatures, and of course, 
that their continuance cannot be endangered by it. 

An occasion may arise when the exercise of this ultimate 
power in Congress may be necessary ; as, for instance, if a 
state should be involved in war, and its legislature could nut 
assemble, (as was the case of South Carolina, and occasion 

54 DEBATES. [Si encer. 

ally of some other states, during the late war ;) it might also 
be useful for this reason — lest a few powerful states should 
combine, and make regulations concerning elections which 
mi^ht deprive many of the electors of a fair exercise of their 
rights, and thus injure the community, and occasion great 
dissatisfaction. And it seems natural and proper that every 
government should have in itself the means of its own pres- 
ervation. A few of the great states might combine to pre- 
vent any election of representatives at all, and thus a major- 
ity might be wanting to do business; but it would not be so 
easy to destroy the government by the non-election of sena 
tors, because one third only are to go out at a time, and all 
the states will b(^ equally represented in the Senate. It is 
not probable this power would be abused ; for, if it should 
be, the state legislatures would immediately resent it, and 
their authority over the people will always be extremely 
great. These reasons induce me to think that the power is 
both necessary and useful. But I am sensible great jealousy 
has been entertained concerning it ; and as perhaps the 
danger of a combination, in the manner I have mentioned, 
to destroy or distress the general government, is not very 
probable, it may be better to incur the risk, than occasion 
any discontent by suffering the clause to continue as it now 
stands. I should, therefore, not object to the recommenda- 
tion of an amendment similar to that of other states — that 
this power in Congress should only be exercised when a 
state legislature neglected or was disabled from making the 
regulations required. 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, I did not mean to in- 
sinuate that designs were made, by the honorable gentlemen 
who composed the Federal Constitution, against our lib- 
erties. I only meant to say that the w^ords in this place 
were exceeding vague. It may admit of the gentleman's 
construction; but it may admit of a contrary construction. 
In a matter of so great moment, words ought not to be so 
vague and indeterminate. I have said that the states are 
the hASis on which the government of the United States 
ought to rest, and which must render us secure. No man 
wishes more for a federal government than I do. I think 
it necessary for our happiness ; but at the same time, when 
we torm a government which must entail happiness or 
misery on posterity, nothing is of more consequence than 

Bloodworth.] north CAROLINA. 65 

settling it so as to exclude animosity and a contest betweeu 
the general and individual governments. With respect ti 
the mode here mentioned, they are words of very great ex 
tent. This clause provides that a Congress may at any 
time alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing 
senators. These words are so vague and uncertain, that it 
must ultimately destroy the whole liberty of the United 
States. It strikes at the very existence of the states, and 
supersedes the necessity of having them at all. 1 would 
therefore wish to have it amended in such a manner as that 
the Congress should not interfere but when the states re- 
fused or neglected to regulate elections. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH. Mr. Chairman, I trust that 
such learned arguments as are offered to reconcile our minds 
to such dangerous powers will not have the intended weight. 
The House of Representatives is the only democraticai 
branch. This clause may destroy, representation entirely. 
What does it say ? " The times, places, and manner, of hold- 
ing elections for senators and representatives, shall be pre- 
scribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the 
Congress may at any time, by law, make or alter such 
regulations, except as to the places of choosing senators." 
Now, sir, does not this clause give an unlimited and un- 
bounded power to Congress over the times, places, and 
manner, of choosing representatives ? They may make the 
time of election so long, the place so inconvenient, and the 
manner so oppressive, that it will entirely destroy repre- 
sentation. I hope gentlemen will exercise their own under- 
standing on this occasion, and not let their judgment be led 
away by these shining characters, for whom, however, I 
have the highest respect. This Constitution, if adopted in 
its present mode, must end in the subversion of our liberties. 
Suppose it takes place in North Carolina ; can farmers 
elect them ? No, sir. The elections may be in such a 
manner that men may be appointed who are not repre- 
sentatives of the people. This may exist, and it ought to 
be guarded against. As to the place, suppose Congress 
should order the elections to be held in the most incon- 
venient place in the most inconvenient district ; could every 
person entitled to vote attend at such a place? Suppose 
they should order it to be laid off into so many districts, and 
order the election to be held within each district , yc^t may 

6fa DEBATES. [JoMNiiToii 

not their power over the manner of election enable them to 
exclude from voting every description of men they please ^ 
The democratic branch is so much endangered, that no 
arguments can be made use of to satisfy my mind to it. 
The honorable gentleman has amused us with learned dis- 
cussions, and told us he will condescend to propose amend- 
ments. I hope the representatives of North Carolina will 
never swallow the Constitution till it is amended. 

Mr. GOUDY. Mr. Chairman, the invasion of these 
states is urged as a reason for this clause. But why did 
they not mention that it should be only in cases of inva- 
sion ? But that was not the reason, in my humble opinion. 
I fear it was a combination against our liberties. I ask, 
when we give them the purse in one hand, and the sword 
in another, what power have we left ? It will lead to an 
aristocratical government, and establish tyranny over us. 
We are freemen, and we ought to have the privileges of 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, I do not impute 
any impure intentions to the gentlemen who formed this 
Constitution. I think it unwarrantable in any one to do it. 
I believe that were there twenty conventions appointed, and 
as many constitutions formed, we never could get men 
more able and disinterested than those who formed this ; 
nor a constitution less exceptionable than that which is now 
before you. I am not apprehensive that this article will be 
attended with all the fatal consequences which the gentle- 
man conceives. I conceive that Congress can have no other 
power than the states had. The states, with regard to 
elections, must be governed by the articles of the Constitu- 
tion ; so must Congress. But I believe the power, as it 
now stands, is unnecessary. I should be perfectly satisfied 
with it in the mode recommended by the worthy member 
on my right hand. Although I should be extremely can 
tious to adopt any constitution that would endanger the 
rights and privileges of the people, I have no fear in adopt- 
ing this Constitution, and then proposing amendments. I 
feel as much attachment to the rights and privileges of my 
country as any man in it; and if I thought any thing in 
this Constitution tended to abridge these rights, I would 
not agree to it. I cannot conceive that this is the case. I 
have not the least doubt but it will be adopted by a very ^reat 


majority of the states. For states who have been as jealous 
of their liberties as any in the world have adopted it, and 
they are some of the most powerful states. We shall have 
the assent of all the states in getting amendments. Some 
gentlemen have apprehensions that Congress will immedi- 
ately conspire to destroy the liberties of their country. The 
men of whom Congress will consist are to be chosen from 
among ourselves. They will be in the same situation with 
us. They are to be bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. 
They cannot injure us without injuring themselves. I have 
no doubt but we shall choose the best men in the com- 
munity. Should different men be appointed, they are 
sufficiently responsible. I therefore think that no danger is 
to be apprehended. 

Mr. M'DOWALL. Mr. Chairman, I have the highest 
esteem for the gentleman who spoke last. He has amused 
us with the fine characters of those who formed that gov- 
ernment. Some were good, but some were very imperious, 
aristocratical, despotic, and monarchical. If parts of it are 
extremely good, other parts are very bad. 

The freedom of election is one of the greatest securities 
we have for our liberty and privileges. It was supposed by 
the member from Edenton, that the control over elections 
was only given to Congress to be used in case of invasion. 
I differ from him. That could not have been their intention, 
otherwise they could have expressed it. But, sir, it points 
forward to the time when there will be no state legislatures 
— to the consolidation of all the states. The states will be 
kept up as boards of elections. I think the same men could 
raake a better constitution ; for good government is not the 
work of a short time. They only had their own wisdom. 
Were they to go now, they would have the wisdom of the 
United States. Every gentleman who must reflect on this 
must see it. The adoption of several other states is urged. 
1 hope every gentleman stands for himself, will act accord- 
ing to his own judgment, and will pay no respect to the 
adoption by the other states. It may embarrass us in some 
political difficulties, but let us attend to the interest of our 

Mr. IREDELL answered, that he stated the case of 
invasion as only one reason out of many for giving the ulti- 
mate control over elections to Congress. 

VOL, IV. 8 

.68 DEBATES. [Dayik. 

Mr. DWIE. Mr. Chairman, a consolidation of the 
states is said by some gentlemen to have been intended. 
They insinuate that this was the cause of their giving this 
power of elections. If there were any seeds in this Con- 
stitution which might, one day, produce a consolidation, 
it would, sir, with me, he an insuperable objection, I am 
so perfectly convinced that so extensive a country as this 
can never be managed by one consolidated government. 
The Federal Convention were as well convinced as the 
members of this house, that the state governments were ab- 
solutely necessary to the existence of the federal government^ 
They considered them as the great massy pillars on which 
this political fabric was to be extended and supported; and 
were fully persuaded that, when they were removed, or 
should moulder down by time, the general government must 
tumble into ruin. A very little reflection will show that no 
department of it can exist without the state governments. 

Let us begin with the House if Representatives. Who 
are to vote for the federal representatives? Those who vote 
for the state representatives. If the state government van- 
ishes, the general government must vanish also. This is 
the foundation on which this government was raised, and 
without which it cannot possibly exist. 

The next department is the Senate. How is it formed ? 
By the states themselves. Do they not choose them ? Are 
they not created by them ? And will they not have the in- 
terest of the states particularly at heart ? The states, sir, 
can put a final period to the government, as was observed by a 
gentleman who thought this power over elections unneces- 
sary. If the state legislatures think proper, they may refuse 
to choose senators, and the government must be destroyed. 

Is not this government a nerveless mass, a dead carcase, 
without the executive power? Let your representatives be 
the most vicious demons that ever existed ; let them plot 
against the liberties of America ; let them conspire against 
its happiness, — all their machinations will not avail if not 
put in execution. By whom are their laws and projects to 
be executed ? By the President. How is he created ? By 
electors appointed by the people under the direction of the 
legislatures — by a union of the interest of the people and 
the state governments. The state governments can put a 
t?eto, at any time, on the general government, by ceasing to 
continue the executive power. Admitting the representa* 


1-ives or senators could make corrupt laws, they can neithei 
execute them themselves, nor appoint the execiutive. Now, 
sir, I think it must be clear to every candid mind, that no 
part of this government can be continued after the state gov- 
ernments lose their existence, or even their present forms. 
It may also be easily proved that all federal governments 
jiossess an inherent weakness, which continually tends to 
their destruction. It is to be lamented that all governments 
of a federal nature have been short-lived. 

Such was the fate of the Achaean league, the Amphicty- 
ouic council, and other ancient confederacies ; and this opin- 
ion is confirmed by the uniform testimony of all history. 
There are instances in Europe of confederacies subsisting a 
considerable time ; but their duration must be attributed to 
circumstances exterior to their government. The Germanic 
confederacy would not exist a moment, were it not for fear 
of the surrounding powers, and the interest of the emperor. 
The history of this confederacy is but a series of factions, 
dissensions, bloodshed, and civil war. The confederacies of 
the Swiss, and United Netherlands, would long ago have 
been destroyed, from their imbecility, had it not been for the 
fear, and even the policy, of the bordering nations. It is 
impossible to construct such a government in such a manner 
as to give it any probable longevity. But, sir, there is an 
excellent principle in this proposed plan of federal govern- 
ment, which none of these confederacies had, and to the 
want of which, in a great measure, their imperfections may 
be justly attributed — I mean the principle of representation. 
I hope that, by the agency of this principle, if it be not im- 
mortal, it will at least be long-lived. I thought it necessary 
to say this much to detect the futility of that unwarrantable 
suggestion, that we are to be swallowed up by a great con- 
solidated government. Every part of this federal govern- 
ment is dependent on the constitution of the state legisla- 
tures for its existence. The whole, sir, can never swallow 
up its parts. The gentleman from Edenton (Mr. Iredell) 
has pointed out the reasons of giving this control over elec- 
tions to Congress, the principal of which was, to prevent a 
dissolution of the government by designing states. If all the 
Slates were equally possessed of absolute power over their 
elections, without any control of Congress, danger might be 
jusdy apprehended where one state possesses as much terri- 


lOry as four or five others ; and some of them, being thinly 
peopled now, will daily become more numerous and formida- 
ble. Without this control in Congress, those large states 
might successfully combine to destroy the general govern- 
ment. It was therefore necessary to control any combina- 
tion of this kind. 

Another principal reason was, that it would operate, in 
favor of the people, against the ambitious designs of the fed- 
eral Senate. I will illustrate this by matter of fact. The 
history of the little state of Rhode Island is well known. An 
abandoned faction have seized on the reins of government, 
and frequently refused to have any representation in Con 
gress. If Congress had the |)ower of making the law of 
elections operate throughout the United States, no state 
could withdraw itself from the national councils, without the 
consent of a majority of the members of Congress. Had this 
been the case, that trifling state would not have withheld its 
representation. What once happened may happen again ; 
and it was necessary to give Congress this power, to keep the 
government in full operation. This being a federal govern- 
ment, and involving the interests of several states, and some 
acts requiring the assent of more than a majority, they ought 
to be able to keep their representation full. It would have 
been a solecism, to have a government without any means of 
self-preservation. The Confederation is the only instance 
of a government without such means, and is a nerveless sys- 
tem, as inadequate to every purpose of government as it is to 
the security of the liberties of the people of America. When 
the councils of America have this power over elections, they 
can, in spite of any faction in any particular state, give the 
people a representation. Uniformity in matters of election 
is also of the greatest consequence. They ought all to be 
judged by the same law and the same principles, and not to 
be different in one state from what thev are in another. At 
present, the manner of electing is different in different states. 
Some elect by ballot, and others viva voce. It will be more 
convenient to have the manner uniform in all the states. I 
shall now answer some observations made by the gentleman 
from Mecklenburg He has stated that this power over 
elections gave to Congress power to lengthen the time for 
which they were < lected. Let us read this clause coolly, 
all prejudice aside, and determine whether this construction 

Dahe.] north CAROLINA. Ql 

he warrantable. The clause runs thus : " The times 
places, and manner, of holding elections for senators and 
representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legis- 
lature thereof; but the Congress may at any time, by law, 
make or alter such regulations, except as to the place ot 
choosing senators." I take it as a fundamental principle, 
which is beyond the reach of the general or individual 
governments to alter, that the representatives shall be chosen 
every second year, and that the tenure of their office shall 
be for two years ; that senators be chosen every sixth year, 
and that the tenure of their office be for six years. F take it 
also as a principle, that the electors of the most numerous 
branch of the state legislatures are to elect the federal 
representatives. Congress has ultimately no power over 
elections, but what is primarily given to the state legisla- 
tures. Ff Congress had the power of prolonging the time, 
&c., as gentlemen observe, the same powers must be com- 
pletely vested in the state legislatures. I call upon every 
gentleman candidly to declare, whether the state legislatures 
have the power of altering the time of elections for repre- 
sentatives from two to four years, or senators from six to 
twelve ; and whether they have the power to require any 
other qualifications than those of the most numerous branch 
of the state legislatures ; and also whether they have any 
other power over the manner of elections, any more than the 
mere mode of the act of choosing ; or whether they shall be 
held by sheriffs, as contradistinguished from any other officer ; 
or whether they shall be by votes, as contradistinguished from 
ballots, or any other way. Ff gentlemen will pay attention, 
they will find that, in the latter part of this clause, Congress 
has no power but what was given to the states in the first part 
of the same clause. They may alter the manner of holding the 
election, but cannot alter the tenure of their office. They can- 
not alter the nature of the elections ; for it is established, as 
fundamental principles, that the electors of the most numerous 
branch of the state legislature shall elect the federal repre- 
sentatives, and that the tenure of their office shall be for two 
years ; and likewise, that the senators shall be elected by 
the legislatures, and that the tenure of their office shall be 
for six years. When gentlemen view the clause accurately, 
and see that Congress have only the same power which was 
io the state legislature, they will not be alarmed. The 


62 DEBATES. [Caluweli:-. 

learned do( tor on my right (Mr. Spencer) has also said that 
Congress might lengthen the time of elections. I am will- 
ing to appeal to grammatical construction and punctuation. 
Let me read this, as it stands on paper. [Here he read the 
clause different ways, expressing the same sense.] Here, 
in the first part of the clause, this power over elections is 
given to the states, and in the latter part the same power is 
given to Congress, and extending only to the time of hold- 
ing, the place of holdingy and the manner of holdings the 
elections. Is this not the plain, literal, and grammatical 
construction of the clause ? Is it possible to put any other 
construction on it, without departing from the natural order, 
and without deviating from the general meaning of the words, 
and every rule of grammatical construction ? Twist it, tor- 
ture it, as you may, sir, it is impossible to fix a different sense 
upon it. The worthy gentleman from New Hanover, (whose 
ardor for the liberty of his country I wish never to be damped,) 
has insinuated that high characters might influence the mem- 
bers on this occasion. F declare, for my own part, I wish 
every man to be guided by his own conscience and under- 
standing, and by nothing else. Every man has not been 
bred a politician, nor studied the science of government; 
yet, when a subject is explained, if the mind is unwarped by 
prejudice, and not in the leading-strings of other people, 
gentlemen will do what is right. Were this the cas<% 1 
would risk my salvation on a right decision. 

Mr. CALDWELL. Mr. Chairman, those things which 
can be may be. We know that, in the British government, 
the members of Parliament were eligible only for three 
years. They determined they might be chosen for seven 
years. If Congress can alter the time, manner, and place, 
I think it will enable them to do what the British Par- 
liament once did. They have declared that the elections 
of senators are for six years, and of representatives for two 
years. But they have said there was an exception to this 
general declaration, viz., that Congress can alter th(»m. If 
the Convention only meant that they should alter them in 
such a manner as to prevent a discontinuation of the gov- 
ernment, why have they not said so? It must appear to 
every gentleman in this Convention, that they can alter 
the elections to what time they please. And if the British 
Parliament did once give themselves the powder of sitting 
four years longer than they had a right to do, Congress, 


having a standing army, and the command of the militia, 
may, with the same propriety, make an act to continue the 
members for twenty years, or even for their natural lives. 
This construction apj)ears perfectly rational to me. I shall 
therefore think that this Convention will never swallow such 
a government, without securing us against danger. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, the reverend gentle- 
man from Guilford has made an objection which astonishes 
me more than any thing I have heard. He seems to be 
acquainted with the history of England, but he ought to 
consider whether his historical references apply to this 
country. He tells us of triennial elections being changed 
to septennial elections. This is an historical fact we well 
know, and the occasion on which it happened is equally 
well known. Tht»y talk as loudly of constitutional rights 
and privileges in England as we do here, but they have 
no written constitution. They have a common law, — which 
has l)een altered from year to year, for a very lonij p(*riod, 
— Magna Charta, and bill of rights. These they look upon 
as their constitution. Yet this is such a constituti(m as it 
is universally considered Parliament can change. Black- 
stone, in his admirable Commentaries, tells us that the 
power of the Parliament is transcendent and absolute, and 
can do and undo every thing that is not naturally impos- 
sible. The act, therefore, to which the reverend gentle- 
man alludes, was not unconstitutional. Has any man said 
that the legislature can deviate from this Constitution ? 
The legislature is to be guided by the Constitution. They 
cannot travel beyond its bounds. The reverend gentleman 
says, that, though the representatives are to be (elected for 
two years, they may pass an act prolonging their appoint- 
ment for twenty years, or for natural life, without any vio- 
lation of the Constitution. Is it possible for any common 
understanding or sense to put this construction upon it ? 
Such an act, sir, would be a palpable violation of the Con- 
stitution : were they to attempt it, sir, the country would 
rise against them. After such an unwarrantable suggestion 
as this, any objection may be made to this Constitution. It 
is necessary to give power to the government. I would 
ask that gentleman who is so much afraid it will destroy 
our liberties, why he is not as much afraid of our state legis- 
lature ; for they have much more power than we are now 

64 DEBATES. [JoHNSToii. 

proposing to give this general government. They have an 
unlimited control over the purse and sword ; yet no com- 
plaints are made. Why is he not as much afraid that our 
legislature will call out the militia to destroy our liberties ? 
Will the militia be called out by the general government to 
enslave the people — to enslave their friends, their families, 
themselves ? The idea of the militia being m ide use of, as 
an instrument to destroy our liberties, is almost too absurd 
to merit a refutation. It cannot be supposed that the repre- 
sentatives of our general government will be worse men 
than the members of our state government. Will we be such 
fools as to send our greatest rascals to the general govern- 
ment ? We must be both fools as well as villains to do so. 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, I shall offer some 
observations on what the gentleman said. A parallel has 
been drawn between the British Parliament and Congress. 
The powers of Congress are all circumscribed, defined, and 
clearly laid down. So far they may go, but no farther. But, 
sir, what are the powers of the British Parliament ? They 
have no written constitution in Britain. They have certain 
fundamental principles and legislative acts, securing the 
liberty of the people ; but these may be altered by their 
representatives, without violating their constitution, in such 
manner as they may think proper. Their legislature existed 
long before the science of government was well understood. 
From very early periods, you find their Parliament in full 
force. What is their Magna Charta ? It is only an act of 
Parliament. Their Parliament can, at any time, alter the 
whole or any part of it. In short, it is no more binding on 
the people than any other act which has passed. The pow- 
t^r of the Parliament is, therefore, unfunded. But, sir, can 
Congress alter the Constitution ? They have no such power. 
They are bound to act by the Constitution. They dare not 
recede from it. At the moment that the time for which 
they are elected expires, they may be removed. If they 
make bad laws, they will be removed ; for they will be no 
longer worthy of confidence. The British Parliament can 
do every thing they please. Their bill of rights is only an 
act of Parliament, which may be, at any time, altered or 
modified, without a violation of the constitution. The peo- 
ple of Great Britain have no constitution to control theii 
legislature. The king, lords, and commons, can do what 
they please. 


Mr. CALDWELL observed, that whatever nominal 
powers the British Parliament might possess, yet they haa 
infringed the liberty of the people in the most flagrfint man- 
ner, by giving themselves power to continue four years in 
l^arliament longer than they had been elected for — that 
l-hough they were only chosen for three years by their con- 
stituents, yet they passed an act that representatives should, 
for the future, be chosen for seven years — that this Consti 
t:ution would have a dangerous tendency — that this clause 
>vould enable them to prolong their continuance in office as 
long as they pleased — and that, if a constitution was not 
agreeable to the people, its operation could not be happy. 

Gov. JOHNSTON replied, that the act to which allusior. 
was made by the gentleman was not unconstitutional ; bui 
that, if Congress were to pass an act prolonging the term> 
of elections of senators or representatives, it would be clearl} 

Mr. MACLAINE observed, that the act of Parliament 
referred to was passed on urgent necessity, when George I 
ascended the throne, to prevent the Papists from getting 
into Parliament ; for parties ran so high at that time, that 
Papists enough might have got in to destroy the act of set- 
tlement which excluded the Roman Catholics from the suc- 
cession to the throne. 

Mr. SPENCER. The gentleman from Halifax said, that 
the reason of this clause was, that some states might be re- 
fractory. I profess that, in my opinion, the circumstances 
of Rhode Island do not appear to apply. 1 cannot conceive 
the particular cause why Rhode Island should not send rep- 
resentatives to Congress. If they were united in one gov- 
ernment, is it presumed that they would waive the right of 
representation r I have not the least reason to doubt they 
would make use of the privilege. With respect to the con- 
struction that the worthy member put upon the clause, were 
that construction established, I would be satisfied ; but it is 
susceptible of a different explanation. They may alter the 
mode of election so as to deprive the people of the right of 
choosing. I wish to have it expressed in a more explicit 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman has certainly 
Misconceived the matter, when he says " that the circum- 
stances of Rhode Island do not apply." It is a fact welt 

VOL. IV. 9 

66 DEBATES. [Davie. 

known of which, pernaps, he may not be possessed, that 
the state of Rhode Island has not been regularly represented 
for several years, owing to the character and particular views 
of the prevailing party. By the influence of this faction, 
who are in possession of the state government, the people 
have been frequently deprived of the benefit of a represen- 
tation in the Union, and Congress often embarrassed by their 
absence. The same evil may again result from the same 
cause ; and Congress ought, therefore, to possess constitu- 
tional power to give the people an opportunity of electing 
representatives, if the states neglect or refuse to do it. The 
gentleman from Anson has said, " that this clause is suscep- 
tible of an explanation different from the construction I put 
upon it." I have a high respect for his opinion, but that 
alone, on this important occasion, is not satisfactory : we 
must have some reasons from him to support and sahction 
this opinion. Fie is a professional man, and has held an 
office many years, the nature and duties of which would en- 
able him to put a different construction on this clause, if it is 
capable of it. 

This clause, sir, has been the occasion of much groundless 
alarm, and has been the favorite theme of declamation out 
of doors. I now call upon the gentlemen of the opposition 
to show that it contains the mischiefs with which they have 
alarmed and agitated the public mind, and I defy them to 
support the construction they have put upon it by one single 
plausible reason. The gentleman from New Hanover has 
said, in objection to this clause, " that Congress may appoint 
the most inconvenient place in the most inconvenient dis- 
trict, and make the manner of election so oppressive as 
entirely to destroy representation." If this is considered as 
possible, he should also reflect that the state legislatures 
may do the same thing. But this can never happen, sir, 
until the whole mass of the people become corrupt, when 
all parchment securities will be of little service. Does that 
gentleman, or any other gentleman who has the smallest 
acquaintance with human nature or the spirit of America, 
suppose that the p(*ople will passively relinquish privileges, 
or suffer the usurpation of powers unwarranted by the Con- 
stitution ? Docs not the right of electing representatives 
revert to the people every second year ? There is nothing 
in this clause that can impede or destroy this reversion ; and 

BloodwoathJ north CAROLINA. 67 

although the particular time of year, the particular place in a 
county or a district, or the particular mode in which elec- 
tions are to be held, as whether by vote or ballot, be left to 
Congress to direct, yet this can never deprive the people of 
the right or privilege of election. He has also added, " that 
the deraocratical branch was in danger from this clause ; " 
and, with some other gentlemen, took it for granted that an 
aristocracy must arise out of the general government. This, 
1 take it, from the very nature of the thing, can never happen. 
Aristocracies grow out of the combination of a few powerful 
families, where the country or people upon which they are 
to operate are immediately under their influence ; whereas 
the interest and influence of this government are too weak, 
and too much diffused, ever to bring about such an event. 
The x^onfidence of the people, acquired by a wise and 
virtuous conduct, is the only influence the members of the 
federal government can ever have. When aristocracies are 
formed, they will arise within the individtial states. It is 
therefore absolutely necessary that Congress should have a 
constitutional power to give the people at large a represen- 
tation in the government, in order to break and control such 
dangerous combinations. Let gentlemen show when and 
how this aristocracy they talk of is to arise out of this Con- 
stitution. Are the first members to perpetuate themselves? 
Is the Constitution to be attacked by such al)surd assertions 
as these, and charged with defects with which it has no 
possible connection r 

Mr. BLOODWORTH. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman 
has mistaken me. When we examine the gentleman's ar- 
guments, they have no weight. He tells us that it is not 
probable " that an aristocracy can arise." I did not say that 
it would. Various arguments are brought forward in sup- 
port of this article. They are vague and trifling. There is 
nothing that can be offered to my mind which will reconcile 
me to it while this evil exists — while Congress have this 
control over elections. It was easy for them to mention 
that this control should only be exerted when the state 
W'ould neglect, or refuse, or be unable in case of invasion, 
to regulate elections. If so, why did they not mention it 
expressly ? 

It appears to me that some of their general observations 
imply a contradiction. Do they not tell us that there is no 


qanger of a consolida^iop ? that Congress can exist no longei 
than the states — the massy pillars on which it is said. to be 
raised? Do they not also tell us that the state governmeuts 
,are to secure us against Congress ? At another time, they 
tell u^ that it was unnecessary to^sejcure our liberty by giving 
them power to prevent the state governments from oppressing 
us. VVe know that there is a corruption iti human nature. 
Without circumspection and carefulness, we shall throw 
away our liberties. Why is this general expression used on 
this great occasion ? Why not use expressions that were 
clear and unequivocal ? If I trust my property with a man 
and take security, shall I then barter away my rights ? 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, this clause may operati 
in such a manner as will abridge the liberty of the people 
It is vvell known that men in power are apt to abuse it, and 
extend it if possible. From the ambiguity of this expres- 
sion, they may put such construction upon it as may suit 
them. 1 would not h^ve it in such a manner as to endangei 
the rights of the people. But it has been said that this 
power is necessary to preserve their existence. There is 
qot the least doubt but the people will keep them from losing 
their existence, if they shall behave themselves in such a 
manner as will merit it. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, I thought it very ex- 
traordinary that the gentleman who was last on the flooi 
should say that Congress could do what they please with 
respect to elections, and be warranted by this clause. The 
gentleman from Halifax (Mr. Davie) has put that construc- 
tion upon it which reason and con>mon sense will put upon 
it. Lawyers will often differ on a point of law, but people 
will seldom differ about so very plain a thing as this. The 
clause enables Congress to alter such regulations as the 
states shall have made with respect to elections. What 
vvould he infer from this ? What is it to alter ? It is to 
alter the time, place, and manner, established by the legis- 
latures, if they do not answer the purpose. Congress ought 
to have power to perpetuate the government, and not the 
states, who might be otherwise inclined. I will ask the 
gentleman — and I wish he may give me a satisfactory an- 
swer — if the whole is not in the power of the people, as. 
well when the elections are regulated by Congress, as when 
by the states. Are not lK)th the agents of the people, ame- 

Bloodwohth.] north CAROLINA. 69 

liable to them ? Is there any thing in this Constitution which 

f fives them the power to perpetuate the sitting members ? 
s there any sMch strange absurdity? If the legislature of 
this state has the power to fix the time, place, and manner, 
of holding elections, why not place the same confidence in 
the general government ? The members of the general gov- 
ernment, and those of the state legislature, are both chosen 
by the people. They are both from among the people, and are 
in the same situation. Those who served in the state legisla- 
ture are eligible, and may be sent to Congress. If the elec- 
tions be regulated in the best manner in the state government, 
can it be supposed that the same man will lose all his virtue, 
his character and principles, when he goes into the general 
government, in order to deprive us of our libert)' ? 

The gentleman from New Hanover seems to think it 
possible Congress will so far forget themselves as to point 
out such improper seasons of the year, and such inconvenient 
places for elections, as to defeat the privilege of the demo- 
cratic branch altogether. He speaks of inconsistency in the 
arguments of the gentlemen. 1 wish he would be consistent 
himself. If 1 do not mistake the politics of that gentleman, 
it is his opinion that Congress had sufficient power under 
the Confederaitioin. He has said, without contradiction, that 
we should be better without the Union than with it ; that it 
would be better for us to be by ourselves than in the Union. 
His antipathy to a general government, and to the Union, is 
evidently inconsistent with his predilection for a federal 
democratic branch. We should have no democratic "part of 
the govefdrnent at all, under such a government as he would 
recommend. There is no such part in the old Confeder- 
ation. The body of the people had no agency in that system. 
The metnbers of the present general government are selected 
by the state legislatures, and have the power of the purse, 
and other powers, and are not amenable to the pe^oplc at large. 
Although the gentleman may deny my assertions, yet this 
argument of his is inconsistent with his other assertions ancl 
doctrines. It is impossible for any man in his senses to 
think that we can exist by ourselves, separated from our 
sister states. Whatever gentlemen niay pretend to say on 
this point, it rrttist be a matter of serious alarm to every 
reflecting mind, to be disunited from the other states. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH begged leave to wipe off the asser- 


tion of the gentleman ; that he could not account for anj 
expression which he might drop among a laughing, jcK^ose 
people, but that it was well known he was for giving power 
to Congress to regulate the trade of the United States; that 
he had said that Congress had exercised power not given 
them by the Confederation, and that he was accurate in the 
assertion ; that he was a freeman, and was under* the control 
of no man. 

Mr. MACLAINE replied, that he meant no aspersions; 
that he only meant to point out a fact ; that he had com- 
mitted mistakes himself in argument, and that he supposed 
the gentleman not more infallible than other people. 

JVfr. J. TAYLOR wished to know why the states had 
control over the place of electing senators, but not over that 
of choosing the representatives. 

Mr. SPAIGHT answered, that the reason of that reser- 
vation was to prevent Congress from altering the places for 
holding the legislative assemblies in the different states. 

Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY. Mr. Chairman, in the be- 
ginning I found great candor in the advocates of this govern- 
ment, but it is not so towards the last. I hope the gentleman 
from Halifax will not take it amiss, if 1 mention how he 
brought the motion forward. They began with dangers. 
As to Rhode Island being governed by a faction, what has 
that to do with the question before us ? I ask, What have the 
state governments left for them, if the general government 
is to be possessed of such extensive powers, without control 
or limitation, without any responsibility to the states? He 
asks. How is it possible for the members to perpetuate them- 
selves? I think I can show how they can do it. For in- 
stance, were they to take the government as it now stands 
organized. We send five members to the House of Repre- 
sentatives in the general government. They will go, no 
doubt, from or near the seaj)orts. In other states, also, those 
near the sea will have more interest, and will go forward to 
Congress ; and they can, without violating the Constitution, 
make a law continuing themselves, as they have control over 
the place, time, and manner, of elections. This may happen ; 
and where the great principles of liberty are endangered, no 
general, indeterminate, vague expression ought to be suf- 
fered. Shall we pass over this article as it is now? They 
will be able to perpetuate themselves as well as if it had ex- 
pressly said so. 

Steele.] NORTH CAROLINA. 7i 

Mr. STEELE. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman has said 
that the five representatives which this state shall be entitled 
to send to the general government, will go from the sea- 
ishore. What reason has he to say they will go from the 
sea-shore? The time, place, and manner, of holding elec- 
tions are to be prescribed by the legislatures. Our legisla- 
ture is to regulate the first election, at any event. They 
will regulate it as they think proper. They may, and most 
probably will, lay the state off into districts. Who are to 
vote for them ? Every man who has a right to vote for a 
representative to our legislature will ever have a right to 
vote for a representative to the general government. Does 
it not expressly provide that the electors in «»ach state shall 
have the qualifications requisite for the most numerous branch 
of the state legislature ? Can they, without a most manifest 
violation of the Constitution, alter the qualifications of the 
electors? The power over the manner of elections does not 
include that of saying who shall vote : — the Constitution ex- 
pressly says that the qualifications which entitle a man to 
vote for a state representative. It is, then, clearly and in- 
dubitably fixed and determined who shall be the electors; 
and the power over the manner only enables them to deter- 
mine how these electors shall elect — whether by ballot, or 
by vote, or by any other way. Is it not a maxim of univer- 
sal jurisprudence, of reason and common sense, that an 
instrument or deed of writing shall be so construed as to give 
validity to all parts of it, if it can be done without involving 
any absurdity ? By construing: it in the plain, obvious way 
I have mentioned, all parts will be valid. By the way, gen- 
tlemen suggest the most palpable contradiction, and absurd- 
ity will follow. To say that they shall go from the sea- 
shore, and be able to perpetuate themselves, is a most 
extravagant idea. Will the members of Congress deviate 
from their duty without any prospect of advantage to them- 
selves? What interest can they have to make the place of 
elections inconvenient ? The judicial power of that govern- 
ment is so well constructed as to be a check. There was 
no check in the old Confederation. Their power was, m 
principle and theory, transcendent. If the Congress make 
laws inconsistent with the Constitution, independent judges 
will not uphold them, nor will the people obey them. A 
universal resistance will ensue. In some countries, the 


arbitrary disposition of rulers may enable them to overturn 
;the liberties of the people ; but in a country like this, where 
every man is his own master, and where almost every man 
is a freeholder, and has the right of election, the violations 
of a constitution will not be passively permitted. Can it be 
supposed that in such a country the rights of suffrage will be 
tamely surrendered ? Is it to be supposed that 30^000 free 
persons will send the most abandoned wretch in the district 
to legislate for them in the general legislature ? I ^ould 
rather think they would choose men of the most respectable 

Saturday, July 26, 1788. 

Mr. KENNION in the chair. The 5ih section of the 1st 
article read. 

Mr. STEELE observed, that he had heard objections to 
the 3d clause of this section, with respect to the periodical 
publication of the Journals, the entering the yeas and mays 
on them, and the suppression of such parts as required 
secrecy — that he had no otyection himself, for that he 
thought the necessity of publishing their transactions was an 
excellent check, and that every principle of prudence and 
good policy pointed out the necessity of not publishing such 
transactions as related to military arrangements and war — 
that this provision was exactly similar to that which was in 
the old Confederation. 

Mr. GRAHAM wished to hear an explanation of the 
words " from time to time," whether it was a short or a long 
time, or how often they should be obliged to publish their 

Mr. DAVIE answered, that they would be probably pub- 
lished after the rising of Congress, every year — that if they 
sat two or three times, or oftener, in the year, ihey might be 
published every time they rose — that there could be no 
doubt of their publishing them as often as it would be con- 
venient and proper, and that they would conceal nothing but 
what 11 would be unsafe to publish. He further observed, that 
some states had proposed an amendment, that they should 
be published annually ; but he thought it very safe and 
proper as it stood — that it was the sense of the Convention 
that they should be published at the end of every session. 
The gentleman from Salisbury had said, that in this particu- 


lar it resembled the old Confederation. Other gentlemen 
have said there is no similarity at all. He therefore wished 
^he difference to be stated. 

Mr. IREDELL remarked, that the provision in the clause 
under consideration was similar in meaning and substance to 
that in the Confederation — that in time of war it was ab- 
■Holutely necessary to conceal the operations of government; 
otherwise no attack on an enemy could be premeditated 
with success, for the enemy could discover our plans soon 
enough to defeat them — that it was no less imprudent to 
divulge our negotiations with foreign powers, and the most 
salutary schemes might be prevented by imprudently pro- 
mulgating all the transactions of the government indiscrimi- 

Mr. J. GALLOWAY wished to obviate what gentlemen 
had said with regard to the similarity of the old Confedera- 
tion to the new system, with respect to the publication of 
their proceedings. He remarked, that, at the desire of orte 
member from any state, the yeas and nays were to be put 
on the Journals, and published by ihe Confederation ; where- 
as, by this system, the concurrence of one fifth was 

To this it was answered, that the alteration was made be- 
<:au8e experience held showed, when any two members c*ould 
require the yeas and nays, they were taken on many trifling 
occasions; and there was no doubt one fifth would require 
them on every occasion of importance. 

The 6th section read without any observations. 

1st clause of the 7th section likewise read without any 

2d clause read. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, this is a novelty in 
the Constitution, and is a regulation of considerable im 
poriance. Permit me to state the reasons for which I im- 
agine this regulation was made. They are such as, in my 
opinion, fuMy justify it. 

One great alteration proposed by the Constitution — and 
which is a capital improvement- on the Articles of Confed- 
eratJOfi — is, that the executive, legislative, and Judicial 
powers should be separate and distinct. The best writers, 
and ^11 the most enlightened part of mankind, agree that 
it m esseatial to the preservation of liberty, that such dis* 

VOL. IV. 10 7 

74 DEBATES. [Iredeu 

tinction and separation of powers should be made. But 
this distinction would have very little efiicacy if each power 
had no means to defend itself against the encroachment of 
the others. 

The British constitution, the theory of which is much ad- 
mired, but which, however, is in fact liable to many objec 
tions, has divided the government into three branches. The 
king, who is hereditary, forms one branch, the Lords and 
Commons the two others ; and no bill passes into a law 
without the king's consent. This is a great constitutional 
support of his authority. By the proposed Constitution, the 
President is of a very different nature from a monarch. He 
is to be chosen by electors appointed by the people ; to be 
taken from among the people ; to hold his office only for the 
short period of four years ; and to be personally responsible 
for any abuse of the great trust reposed in him. 

In a republican government, it would be extremely dan- 
gerous to place it in the power of one man to put an abso- 
lute negative on a bill proposed by two houses, one of which 
represented the people, and the other the states of America. 
It therefore became an object of consideration, how the ex- 
ecutive could defend itself without being a competent part 
of the legislature. This difficulty was happily remedied by 
the clause now under our consideration. The executive is 
not entirely at the mercy of the legislature ; nor is it put in 
the power of the .executive entirely to defeat the acts ol 
those two important branches. As it is provided in this 
clause, if a bare majority of both houses should pass a bill 
which the President thought injurious to his country, it is 
in his power — to do what ? Not to say, in an arbitrary, 
haughty manner, that he does not approve of it ; — but, if he 
thinks It a bad bill, respectfully to offer his reasons to both 
houses ; by whom, in that case, it is to be reconsidered, and 
nut to become a law unless two thirds of both houses shall 
concur; which they still may, notwithstanding the Presi- 
dent's objection. It cannot be presumed that he would 
venture to oppose a bill, under such circumstances, without 
very strong reasons. Unless he was sure of a powerful sup- 
port in the legislature, his opposition would be of no effect ; 
and as his reasons are to be put on record, his fame is com- 
mitted both to the present times and to posterity. 

The exercise of this power, in a time of violent factions, 

Spencer.] NORTH CAROLINA. 7i* 

might l3e possibly hazardous to himself; but he can have; no 
ill motive to exert himself in the face of a violent opposition. 
Rt^gard to his duty alone could induce him to oppose, when 
it was probable two thirds would at all events overrule him. 
This power may be usefully exercised, even when no ill 
intention prevails in the legislature. It might frequently 
happen that, where a bare majority had carried a pernicious 
bill, if there was an authority to suspend it, upon a cool 
statement of reasons, many of that majority, on a recon- 
sideration, might be convinced, and vote differently. 1 
therefore think the method proposed is a happy medium be- 
tween the possession of an absolute negative, and the ex- 
ecutive having no control whatever on acts of legislation ; 
and at the same time that it serves to protect the executive 
from ill designs in the legislature, it may also answer the 
purposes of preventing many laws passing which would be 
immediately injurious to the people at large. It is a strong 
guard against abuses in all, that the President's reasons are 
to be entered at large on the Journals, and, if the bill 
passes notwithstanding, that the yeas and nays are also 
to be entered. The public, therefore, can judge fairly be- 
tween them. 

The 1st clause of the 8ih section read. 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, I conceive this powei 
to be too extensive, as it embraces all possible powers of 
taxation, and gives up to Congress every possible article of 
taxation that can ever happen. By means of this, there will 
be no way for the states of receiving or collecting taxes at 
all, but what may interfere with the collections of Congress. 
Every power is given over our money to those over whom 
we have no immediate control. I would ^ive them powers 
to support the goverament, but would not agree to annihilate 
the state governments in an article which is most essential 
to their existence. 1 would give them power of laying im- 
posts ; and I would give them power to lay and collect ex- 
cises. I confess that this is a kind of tax so odious to a free 
people, that I should with great reluctance agree to its 
exercise ; but it is obvious that, unless such excises were 
admitted, the public burden will be all borne by those parts 
of the community who do not manufacture for themselves. 
So manifest an inequality would justify a recurrence to this 
species of taxes. 

7b DEBATES. [Spencer 

How are direct taxes to be laid ? By a poll tax, assess- 
ments on land or other property ? Inconvehience and 
oppression will arise from any of them. I would not be 
understood thalt , I would not wish to have ah efficient 
government for the United States. 1 am sensible that Ikws 
operating on individuals cannot' be carried on against states; 
because, if they do not comply with the general la[ws of the 
Union, there is no way to compel a compliance but force. 
There must be an army to compel them. Some states may 
have some excuse for non-compliance. Others will feign 
excuses. Several states may perhaps be in the same pre- 
dicament. If force be used to compel them, they will 
probably call for foreign aid ; and the very means of defetice 
will operate to the dissolution of the system, and to the 
destruction of the states. I would not, therefore, deny 'that 
Congress ought to have the power of taking out of the 
pockets of the individuals at large, if the states fail to pciy 
those taxes in a convenient time. If requisitions were to be 
made on the several states, proportionate to their abilities, 
the several state legislatures, 'knowing the circutlistcinces of 
their constituents, and that they would ultimately be cdra- 
pelled to pay, would lay the tax in a convenient tnanner, 
and would be able to pay their quotas at the end of the year. 
They are better acquainted with the mode in which taxes 
tvdii be raised, than the general government can possibly be. 

It may happen, for instance, that if ready money cannot 
be immediately received from the pockets of individuals for 
their taxes, their estates, consisting of lands, negroes, stock, 
and furniture, most l)e set up and sold at vendue. We can 
easfily see, from the great scarcity of money at this day, that 
great distresses must happen. There is tio hard money in 
the country. It most come from other parts of the world. 
Such property would sell for one tenth part of its vdlue. 
Such a mode as this would, in a few years, deprive the 
people of their estates. But, on the contrary, if articles 
proper for exportation were either specifically taken for their 
taxes imtncdiately by the state legislature, or if the collection 
should be deferred till they had disposed of such articles, no 
oppression or inconvenience woula happen. There is no 
person so podr but who can raise something to dispose of 
For a great part of the United States, those articles which 
are proper for exportation would answer the puroose. 1 


Would' have a t^ laid on estates where suph articles could 
UQt b^ had, aiid such a tax. to be by iostalcoents for t>vo or 
naore years. 

I would admit, if the quotas were not punctually paid at 
the end of the time, that Congress might collect taxes, 
tjecause this povyer is absolutely necessary for the support 
of the general government. But I would not give it in the 
first instance ; for nothing would be more oppressive, as in a 
short time people would be compelled to part with their 
property. In the other case, they would part with none but 
in such a manner as to encourage their industry. On the 
other hand, if requisitions, ia cases of emergency, wen 
proposed to the state assemblies, it would l)e a measure oi 
c^ooveuience to the people, and would be a means of keeping* 
up the importance of the state legislatures, and would con- 
ciliate their affections ; and their knowledge of the ultimate 
right of Congress to collect taxes would stimulate theii 
exertions to raise money. But if the power of taxation be 
given in the first instance to Congress, the state legislatures. 
will be liable to be counteracted by the general government 
in all their operations. These arc my reasons for objecting 
to this article. 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, this clause is ob- 
jected to; and it is proposed to alter it in such a manner, 
tihat the general government shall not have power to la} 
taxes in the first instance, but shall apply to the states, and, 
in case of reftisal, that direct taxation shall take place ; that 
is to say, that the general government should pass an act to 
levy money on the United States, and if the states did not, 
within a limited time, pay their respective proportions, the 
officers of the United States should proceed to levy money 
on th^ inhabitants of the different states. The question has 
been agitated by the conventions in different states, and 
some very respectable states have proposed that there should 
be an amendment, in the manner which the worthy member 
last up has proposed. But, sir, although I pay very great 
respect to the opinions and decisions of the gentlemen who 
composed those conventions, and although they were wise 
in many instances, I cannot concur with them in this par- 
ticular. It appears to me that it will be attended with many 
inconveniences. It seems to me probable that the money 
arisiAg from duties and excises will be, in general, sufficient 

78 DEBATES. [Johnston 

to answer all the ordinary purposes of government ; but in 
cases of emergency, it will be necessary to lay direct taxes 
In cases of emergency, it will be necessary that these taxei 
should be a responsible and established fund to support the 
credit of the United States; for it cannot be supposed that, 
from the ordinary sources of revenue, money can be brought 
into our treasury in such a manner as to answer pressing 
dangers; nor can it be supposed that our credit will enable 
us to procure any loans, if our government is limited in the 
means of procuring money. But, if the government have it 
in their power to lay those taxes, it will give them credit tc 
borrow money on that security, and for that reason it will 
not be necessary to lay so heavy a tax ; for, if the tax ij 
sufficiently productive to pay the interest, money may always 
be had in consequence ot that security. If the state legis- 
latures must be applied to, they must lay a tax for the ful 
sum wanting. This will be much more oppressive than £ 
tax laid by Congress ; for 1 presume that no state legislature 
will have as much credit individually as the United States 
conjointly ; therefore, viewing it in this light, a tax laid bj 
Conojress will be much easier than a tax laid by the states 
Another inconvenience which will attend this proposec 
amendment is, that these emergencies may happen a con- 
siderable time before the meeting of some state legislatures 
and previous to their meeting, the schemes of the governniem 
may be defeated by this delay. A considerable time wil 
elapse before the state can lay the tax, and a considerable 
time before it be collected ; and perhaps it cannot be col- 
lected at all. One reason which the worthy member has 
offered in favor of the amendment was, that the genera 
legislature cannot lay a tax without interfering with the 
taxation of the state legislature. It may happen that the 
taxes of both may be laid on the same article ; but I hope 
and believe that the taxes to be laid on by the genera 
legislature will be so very light that it will be no incon- 
venience to the people to pay them ; and if you attend tc 
the probable amount of the imjx)st, you must conclude thai 
the small addition to the taxes will not make them so high 
as they are at this time. Another reason offered by the 
worthy member in support of the amendment is, that the 
state legislature may direct taxes to be paid in specific 
articles. We had full experience of this in the late wai 


I call on the house to say, whether it was not th(, most 
oppressive and least productive tax ever known in the state. 
Many articles were lost, and many could not be disposed of 
so as to be of any service to the people. Most articles are 
perishable, and therefore cannot answer. Others are diffi- 
cult to transport, expensive to keep, and very difficult to 
dispose of. A tax payable in tobacco would answer very 
well in some parts of the country, and perhaps would be 
more productive than any other ; yet we feel that great losses 
have been sustained by the public on this article. A tax 
payable in any kind of grain would answer very little 
purpose, grain being perishable. A tax payable in pitch and 
tar would not answer. A mode of this kind would not be 
at all eligible in this state : the great loss on the specific 
articles, and inconvenience in disposing of them, would render 
them productive of very little. 

He says that this would be a means of keeping up the 
importance of the state legislatures. I am afraid it would 
have a different effect. If requisitions should not be com- 
plied with at the time fixed, the officers of Congress would 
then immediately proceed to make their collections. We 
know that several causes would inevitably produce a failure. 
The states would not, or could not, comply. In that case, 
the state legislature would be disgraced. After having 
done every thing for the support of their credit and impor- 
tance without success, would they not be degraded in the 
ejes of the United States? Would it not cause heart-burn- 
ings between particular states and the United States? The 
inhabitants would oppose the tax-gatherers. They would 
say, "We are taxed by our own state legislature for the 
proportionate quota of our state ; we will not pay you also." 
This would produce insurrections and confusion in the 
country. These are the reasons which induce me to sup- 
port this clause. It is perhaps particularly favorable to this 
stite. We are not an importing country: very little is here 
raised by imposts. Other states, who have adopted the 
Constitution, im|)ort for us. Massachusetts, South Carolina, 
Maryland, and Virginia, are great importing states. From 
them we procure foreign goods, and by that means they are 
generally benefited ; for it is agreed upon by all writers, 
ihif the consumer pays the impost. 

Do we not^ then, pay a tax in support of theii revenue in 

80 DEBATES. ISpbncu 

|iroportioD to our consumption of foreign articles? Do ^e 
not know that this, in our present situation, is without any 
benefit to us ? Do we not pay a second duty when these 
goods are imported into this state ? We now pay double du- 
ties. It is not to be supposed that the mercliant will pay the 
duty without wishing to get interest and profit on the money 
he lays out. It is not to be presumed that he will not add 
to the price a sum sufificient to indemnify himself for the 
inconvenience of parting with the money he pays as a duty. 
We therefore now pay a much higher price foir European 
manufactures than the people do in the great importing 
states. Is it not laying heavy burdens on the people of this 
country, not only to compel them to pay duties for the sup 
port of the importing states, but to pay a second duty on thu 
importation into this state by our own merchants ? By adop» 
tion, we shall participate in the amount of the imposts. Upon • 
the whole, I hope this article will meet with the appro- 
bation of this committee, when they consider the necessit}' 
of supporting the general government, and the many im^on- 
veniences, and probable if not certain inefficacy, of requi 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, I cannot, notwithstand- 
ing what the gentleman has advanced, agree to this clause 
unconditionally. The most certain criterion of happiness 
that any people can have, is to be taxed by their own imme- 
diate representatives, — by those representatives who in- 
termix with them, and know their circumstances, — not by 
those who cannot know their situation. Our federal repre- 
sentatives cannot sufficiently know our situation and cir- 
cumstances. The worthy gentleman said that it would be 
necessary for the general government to have the power 
of laying taxes, in order to have credit to borrow money. 
But 1 cannot think, however plausible it may appear, that 
his argument is conclusive. If such emergency happens as 
will render it necessary for them to borrow money, it will 
be necessary for them to borrow before they proceed to lay 
the tax. I conceive the government will have credit suffi- 
cient to borrow money in the one case as well as the other. 
If requisitions be punctually complied with, no doubt they 
can borrow; and if not punctually complied with. Congress 
can ultimately lay the tax. 

I wish to have the most easy way for the people to pay 


ihcir taxes. The state legislature will know every method 
and expedient by which the people can pay, and they will 
recur to the most convenient. This will he agreeable to the 
people, and will not create insurrections and dissensions in 
the country. The taxes might be laid on the most produc- 
tive articles: I wish not, for my part, to lay them on per- 
ishable articles. There are a number of other articles 
besides those which the worthy gentleman enumerated. 
There are, besides tobacco, hemp, indigo, and cotton. In 
the Northern States, where they have manufactures, a con- 
trary system from ours would be necessary. There the 
principal attention is paid to the giving their children trades 
They have few articles for exportation. By raising the taN 
in this manner, it will introduce such a spirit of industry as 
cannot fail of producing happy consequences to posterity. 
He objected to the mode of paying taxes in specific articles 
May it not be supposed that we shall gain something b} 
experience, and avoid those schemes and methods which 
shall be found inconvenient and disadvantageous? If ex- 
penses should be incurred in keeping and disposing of such 
articles, could not those expenses be reimburst^d by a judi- 
cious sale ? Cannot the legislature be circumspect as to the 
choice and qualities of the objects to be selected for raising 
the taxes due to the Continental treasury? The worthy 
gentleman has mentioned that, if the people should not 
comply to raise the taxes in this way, then, if they were sub- 
ject to the law of Congress, it would throw them into con- 
fusion. I would ask every one here, if there be not more 
reason to induce us to believe that they would be thrown 
into confusion, in case the power of Congress was exercised 
by Congress in the first instance, than in the other case. 
After having so long a time to raise the taxes, it appears to 
me then^ could be no kind of doubt of a punctual com- 
pliance. The rio:ht of Congress to lay taxes ultimately, in 
case of non-compliance with requisitions, would operate as a 
penalty, and would stimulate the states to discharge their 
quotas faithfully. Between these two modes there is an 
immense difference. The one will produce the happiness, 
ease, and prosperity of the people ; the other will destroy 
them, and produce insurrections. 

Mr. SPAIGHT. Mr. Chairman, it was thought abso- 
lutely necessary for the support of the general government 

VOL. IV. 11 

K2 DEBATES. ISfkngbb. 

10 give it power to raise taxes. Government cannot exist 
without certain and adequate funds. Requisitions cannot 
be depended upon* For my part, I think it indifferent 
whether I pay the tax to the officers of the continent or to 
those of the state. I would prefer paying to the Continental 
officers, because it will be less expensive. 

The gentleman last up has objected to the propriety of 
the tax being laid by Congress, because they could not 
know the circumstances of the people. The state legis- 
lature will have no source or opportunity of information 
which the members of the general government may not 
have. They can avail themselves of the experience of the 
state legislature. The gentleman acknowledges the ineffi- 
cacy of requisitions, and yet recommends them. He has 
allowed that laws cannot operate upon political bodies with- 
out the agency of force. His expedient of applying to the 
states in the first instance will be productive of delay, and 
will certainly terminate in a disappointment to Congress. 
But the gentleman has said that we had no hard money, and 
that the taxes might be paid in specific articles. It is well 
known that if taxes are not raised in medium, the state 
loses by it. If the government wishes to raise one thousand 
pounds, they must calculate on a disappointment by specific 
articles, and will therefore impose taxes more in proportion 
to the expected disappointment. An individual can sell his 
commodities much better than the public at large. A tax 
payable in any produce would be less productive, and more 
oppressive to the people, as it would enhance the public 
burdens by its inefficiency. As to abuses by the Continental 
officers, I apprehend the state officers will more probably 
commit abuses than they. Their conduct will be more 
narrowly watched, and misconduct more severely punished. 
I'hey will be therefore more cautious. 

Mr. SPENCER, in answer to Mr. Spaight, observed, 
that, in case of war, he was not opposed to this article, be- 
cause, if the states refused to comply with requisitions, there 
was no way to compel them but military coercion, which 
would induce refractory states to call for foreign aid, which 
might terminate in the dismemberment of the empire. But 
he said that he would not give the power of direct taxation 
to Congress in the first instance, as he thought the states 
would lay the taxes in a less oppressive manner. 


Mr. WHITMILL HILL. Mr. Chairman, the subjec- 
now before us is of the highest importance. The object of 
all government is the protection, security, and happiness of 
the people. To produce this end, government must be pos- 
sessed of the necessarv means. 

Every government must be empowered to raise a suffi- 
cient rerenue ; but I believe it will be allowed, on all hands, 
that Congress has been hitherto altogether destitute of that 
power so essential to every government. I believe, also, 
that it is generally wished that Congress should be possessed 
of power to raise such sums as are requisite for the support 
of the Union, though gentlemen may differ with regard to 
the mode of raising them. 

Our past experience shows us that it is in vain to expect 
any possible efficacy from requisitions. Gentlemen, recom- 
mend these, as if their inutility had not l>een experienced. 
But do we not all know what effects they have produced? 
Is it not to them that we must impute the loss of our credit 
and respectability ? It is necessary, therefore, that govern- 
ment have recourse to some other mode of raising a revenue. 
Had, indeed, every state complied with requisitions, the old 
Confederation would not have been complained of; but as 
the several states have already discovered such repugnancy 
to comply with federal engagements, it must appear abso- 
lutely necessary to free the general government from such a 
state of dependence. 

The debility of the old system, and the necessity ot sub- 
stituting another in its room, are the causes of calling this 

I concygive, sir, that the power given by that clause is ab- 
solutely nA^essary to the existence of the government. Cien- 
tlemen say that we are in such a situation that we cannot 
pay taxes. This, sir, is not a fair representation, in my 
opinion. The honest people of this country acknowledge 
themselves sufficiently able and willing to pay them. . Were 
it a private contract, they would find means to pay them. 
The honest part of the community complain of the acts of 
the legislature. They complain that the legislature makes 
laws, not to suit their constituents, but themselves. The 
legislature, sir, never means to pay a just debt, as their con- 
stituents wish to do. Witness the laws made in this coun- 
try. I will, however, be bold enough to say, that it is the 

84 DEBATES. [Hill. 

wish of the honest people to pay those taxes which are 
necessary for the support of the government. We have for 
a long time waited, in hope that our legislature would point 
out the manner of supporting the general government, and 
relieving us from our present ineligible situation. Every 
body was convinced of the necessity of this ; but how is it 
to be done? The legislature have pointed out a mode — 
their old, favorite mode — they have made paper money ; 
purchased tobacco at an extravagant price, and sold it at 
a considerable loss ; they have received about a dollar in the 
pound. Have we any ground to hope that we shall be in a 
better situation ? 

Shall we be bettered by the alternative proposed by gen 
tlemen — by levying taxes in specific articles ? How will 
you dispose of them ? Where is the merchant to buy them: 
Your business will be put into the hands of a commissioner 
who, having no business of his own, will grasp at it eagerly, 
and he, no doubt, will manxige it. But if the payment of 
the tax be left to the people, — if individuals are told thai 
they must pay such a certain proportion of their income to 
support the general government, — then each will consider il 
as a debt ; he will exert his ingenuity and industry to raise 
it; he will use no agent, but depend on himself. By these 
means the money will certainly be collected. I will pledge 
myself for its certainty. As the legislature has never here 
tofore called upon the people, let the general government 
apply to individuals : it cannot depend upon states. If the 
people have articles, they can receive money for them 
Money is said to be scarce ; but, sir, it is the want of in- 
dustry which is the source of our indigence and difficulties. 
If people would be but active, and exert every p©wer, they 
might certainly pay, and be in easy circumstances ; and the 
people are disposed to do so ; — I mean the good part of 
the community, which, I trust, is the greater part of it. 

Were the money to be paid into our treasury first, instead 
of recommitting it to the Continental treasury, we should 
apply it to discharge our own pressing demands; by which 
means, a very small proportion of it would be paid to Con- 
gress. And if the tax were to be laid and collected by the 
several slates, what would be the consequence ? Congress 
must depend upon twelve funds for its support. The gen- 
eral government must depend on the contingency of sue- 


ceeding in twelve different applications to twelve different 
bodies. What a slender and precarious dependence woula 
this be ! The states, when called upon to pay these demands 
of Congress, would fail; they would pay every other de- 
mand before those of Congress. They have hitherto done 
it. Is not this a true statement of facts ? How is it with 
the Continental treasury.^ The true answer to this question 
must hurt every friend to his country. 

I came in late ; but I believe that a gentleman (Governor 
Johnston) said, that if the states should refuse to pay requi- 
sitions, and the Continental officers were sent to collect, the 
states ^'ould be degraded, and the people discontented. I 
believe this would be the case. The states, by acting dis- 
honestly, would appear in the most odious light ; and the 
people would be irritated at such an application, after a re- 
jection by their own legislature. But if the taxes were to 
be raised of individuals, 1 believe they could, without any 
difficulty, be paid in due time. 

But, sir, the United States wish to be established and 
known among other nations. This will be a matter of great 
utility to them. We might then form advantageous connec- 
tions. When it is once known among foreign nations that 
our general government and our finances are upon a respect- 
able footing, should emergencies happen, we can borrow 
money of them without any disadvantage. The lender 
would be sure of being reimbursed in time. This matter 
is of the highest consequence to the United States. Loans 
must be recurred to sometimes. In case of war they would 
be necessary. All nations borrow money on pressing oc- 

The gentleman who was last up mentioned many specnic 
articles which could be paid by the people in discharge of 
iheir taxes. He has, I think, been fully answered. He 
must see the futility of such a mode. When our wants 
would be greatest, these articles would be least productive 5 
I mean in time of war. But we still have means; such 
means as honest and assiduous men will find. He says 
that Congress cannot lay the tax to suit us. He has foi- 
gotten that Congress are acquainted with us — go from us 
— are situated like ourselves. 1 will be lx)ld to say, it will 
be most thisir own interest to behave with propriety and 
moderation. Their own interest will prompt them to lay 



taxes moderately ; and nothing but the last necessity will 
urge them to recur to that expedient. 

This is a most essential clause. Without money, govern- 
ment will answer no purpose. Gentlemen compare this to 
a foreign tax. It is by no means the case. It is laid by 
ourselves. Our own representatives lay it, and will, no 
doubt, use the most easy means of raising it, possible. Why 
not trust our own representatives ? We might, no doubt, 
have confidence in them on this occasion, as well as every 
other. If the Continental treasury is to depend on the 
states, as usual, it will be always poor. But gentlemen 
are Jealous, and unwilling to trust government, thoitgh they 
are their own representatives. Their maxim is. Trust them 
with no power. This holds against all government. An 
archy will ensue if government be not trusted. I think that 
I know the sentiments of the honest, industrious part of the 
community, as well as any gentleman in this house. They 
wish to discharge these debts, and are able. If they can 
raise the interest of the public debt, it is sufficient. They 
will not be called upon for more than the interest, till such 
time as the country be rich and populous. The principal 
•:an then be paid with great facility. 

We can borrow money with ease, and on advantageous 
terms, when it shall be known that Congress will have that 
power which all governments ought to have. Congress will 
not pay their debts in paper money. I am willing to trust 
this article to Congress, because I have no reason to think 
that our government will be better than it has been. Per- 
haps I have spoken too liberally of the legislature before ; 
but I do not expect that they will ever, without a radical 
change of men and measures, wish to put the general gov- 
ernment on a better footing. It is not the poor man who 
opposes the payment of those just debts to which we owe 
our independence and |)olitical existence, but the rich miser. 
Not the poor, but the rich, shudder at the idea of taxes. 1 
have no dread that Congress will distress us ; nor have I any 
fear that the tax will be embezzled by officers. Industry 
and economy will be promoted, and money will be easier 
got than ever it has been yet. The taxes will be paid by 
the people when called upon. I trust that all honest, in- 
dustrious people will think, with me, that Congress ought to 
be possessed of the power of applying immediately to the 


people for its support, without the interposition of the state 
legislatures. 1 have uo confidence in the legislature : the 
people do not $up))ose them to be honest men. 

Mr. S TEELE was decidedly in favor of the clause. A 
government without revenue he compared to a jioor, forlorn, 
dependent individual, and said that the one would be as 
helpless and contemptible as the other. He wished the 
government of the Union to be on a respectable footing. 
Congress, he said, showed no disposition to tax us — that • 
it was well known that a poll tax of eighteen pence per 
poll, and six pence per hundred acres of land, was appro- 
priated and offered by the legislature to Congress — that 
Congress was solicited to send the oflficers to collect those 
taxes, but they refused — that if this power was not given 
to Congress, the people must be oppressed, especially in 
time of war — that, during the last war, provisions, horses, 
tc., had been taken from the people by force, to supply the 
wants of government — that a respectable government would 
not be under the necessity of recurring to such unwarrant- 
able means — that such a method was unequal and oppres- 
sive to the last degree. The citizens, whose property was 
pressed from them, paid all the taxes ; the rest escaped. 
The press-masters went often to the poorest, and not to the 
richest citizens, and took their horses, &c. This disabled 
them from making a crop the next year. It would be bet- 
ter, he said, to lay the public burdens equally upon the peo- 
ple. Without this power, the other powers of Congress 
would be nugatory. He added, that it would, in his opin- 
ion, give strength and respectability to the United States in 
rime of war, would promote industry and frugality, and 
would enable the government to protect and extend com- 
merce, and consetjuently increase the riches and population . 
of the country. 

Mr. JOSEPH M'DOWALL. Mr. Chairman, this is a 
power that I will never agree to give up from the hands of 
the people of this country. We know that the amount of 
the imposts will be trifling, and that the expenses of this 
government will be very great ; Consequently the taxes will 
be very high. The tax-gatherers will be sent, and our 
property will be wrested out of our hands. The Senate is 
most dangerously constructed. Our only security is the House 
t»l Representatives. They may be continued at Congress? 

88 DEBATES. [JouNSToii. 

eight or ten years. At such a distance from their homes, 
and for so long a time, they will have no feeling for, nor 
any knowledge of, the situation of the people. If elected 
from the seaports, they will not know the western part of 
the country, and vice versa. Two cooperative powers can- 
not exist together. One must submit. The inferior must 
give up to the superior. While I am up, I will say some- 
thing to what has been said by the gentleman to ridicule the 
General Assembly. He represents the legislature in a very 
opprobrious light. It is very astonishing that (he people 
should choose men of such characters to represent them. If 
the people be virtuous, why should they put confidence in 
men of a contrary disposition ? As to paper money, it was 
the result of necessity. We were involved in a great war. 
What money had been in the country was sent to other 
parts of the world. What would have been the consequence 
if paper money had not been made ? We must have been 
undone. Our political existence must have been destroyed. 
The extreme scarcity of specie, with other good causes, 
particularly the solicitation of the officers to receive it at its 
nominal value, for their pay, produced subsequent emissions. 
He tells us that all the people wish this power to be given 
— that the mode of payment need only be pointed out, and 
that they will willingly pay. How are they to raise the 
money ? Have they it in their chests ? Suppose, for in- 
stance, there be a tax of two shillings per hundred laid on 
land ; where is the money to pay it ? We have it not. I 
am acquainted with the people. I know their situation. 
They have no money. Requisitions may yet be complied 
with. Industry and frugality may enable the people to pay 
moderate taxes, if laid by those who have a knowledge of 
their situation, and a feeling for them. If the tax-gatherers 
come upon us, they will, like the locusts of old, destroy us. 
They will have pretty high salaries, and exert themselves to 
oppress us. When we consider these things, we should be 
cautious. They will be weighed, I trust, by the House. 
Nothing said by the gentlemen on the other side has obvi- 
ated my objections. 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman who 
was last up, still insists on the great utility which would re 
suit from that mode which has hitherto been found ineffect 
ual. It is amazing that past experience will not instruct 
him. When a merchant follows a similar mode, — when he 


purchases dear and sells cheap, — he is called a swindler 
and must soon become a bankrupt. This state deserves 
(hat most disgraceful epithet. We are swindlers ; we gave 
three pounds per hundred weight for tobacco, and sold it 
three dollars per hundred weight, after having paid very 
considerable expenses for transporting and keeping it. Th^ 
United States are bankrupts. They are considered such in 
every part of the world. They borrow money, and promise 
to pay : they have it not in their power, and they are obliged 
to ask of the people, whom they owe, to lend them money 
to pay the very interest. This is disgraceful and humiliating. 
By these means we are paying compound interest. No pri- 
vate fortune, however great, — no estate, however affluent, 
— can stand this most destructive mode. This has proceed- 
ed from the inefficacy of requisitions. Shall we continue the 
same practice? Shall we not rather struggle to get over our 
misfortunes ? I hope we shall. 

Another member, on the same side, says that it is im- 
proper to take the power of taxation out of the hands of 
the people. I deny that it is taken out of their hands by 
this system. Their iniimediate representatives lay these 
taxes. Taxes are necessary for every government. Can 
there be any danger when these taxes are laid by the rep- 
resentatives of the people ? If there be, where can political 
safety be found ? But it is said that we have a small proportion 
of that representation. Our proportion is equal to the propor- 
tion of money we shall have to pay. It is therefore a full 
proportion ; and unless we suppose that all the members of 
Congress shall combine to ruin their constituents, we have 
no reason to fear. It is said (I know not from what prin- 
'uple) that our representatives will be taken from the sea- 
«;oast, and will not know in what manner to lay the tax 
lo suit the citizens of the western part of the country. I 
know not whence that idea arose. The gentlemen from 
the westward are not precluded from voting for representa- 
tives. They have it, therefore, in their power to send them 
from the westward, or the middle part of the state. They 
•ire more numerous, and can send them, or the greater 
part of them. I do not doubt but they will send the most 
proper, and men in whom they can put confidence, and 
will give them, from time to time, instructions to enlighten 
their minds. 

VOL. IV. 12 


Something has been said with regard to their paper money. 
1 think very little can be done in favor of it ; much may be 
said, very justly, in favor of it. 

Every man of property — every man of considerable trans- 
actions, whether a merchant, planter, mechanic, or of any 
other condition — must have felt the baneful influence of 
that currency. It gave us relief for a moment. It assisted 
us in the prosecution of a bloody war. It is destructive, 
however, in general, in the end. It was struck, in the last 
instance, for the pur|X)se of paying the officers and soldiers. 
The motive was laudable. 

I then thought, and still do, that those gentlemen might 
have had more advantage by not receiving that kind of pay- 
ment. It would have been better for them, and for the 
country, had it not been emitted. We have involved our- 
selves in a debt of £200,000. We have not, with this sum, 
honestly and fairly paid £50,000. W^as this right ? But, 
say they, there was no circulating medium. This want was 
necessary to be supplied. It is a doubt with me whether 
the circulating medium be increased by an emission of paper 
currency. Before the emission of the paper money, there 
was a great deal of hard money among us. For thirty years 
past, I had not known so much specie in circulation as we 
had at the emission of paper money, in 1783. That medium 
was increasing daily. People from abroad bring specie ; for, 
thank God, our country produces articles which are every 
where in demand. There is more specie in the country 
than is generally imagined ; but the proprietors keep it locked 
up. No man will part with his specie. It lies in his chest. 
It is asked, Why not lend it out ? The answer is obvious 
— that, should he once let it get out of his power, he never 
can recover the whole of it. If he bring suit, he will obtain 
a verdict for one half of it. This is the reason of our pov- 
erty. The scarcity of money must be, in some degree, owing 
to this ; and the specie which is now in this country might 
as well be in any other part of the world. If our trade 
was once on a respectable footing, we should tind means 
of paying that enormous debt. 

Another observation was made, which has not yet been 
answered, viz., that the demands of the United States will be 
smaller than those of the states, for this reason — the United 
States will only make a demand of the interest of the public 
debts: the states must demand both principal and ioterevt* 


for I presume no state can, on an emergency, producoy 
without the aid of individuals, a sum sufficient for that pur- 
pose ; but the United States can borrow, on the credit of 
the fundi arising from their power of laying taxes, such 
sums as will be equal to the emergency. 

There will be always credit given, where there is good 
security. No man, who is not a miser, will hesitate to trus* 
where th^re is a respectable security; but credulity itselt 
would not trust where there was no kind of security, bu 
an absolute certainty of losing. Mankind wish to make their 
money productive; they will therefore lend it where there is 
a security and certainty of recovering it, and no longer keep 
it hoarded in strong boxes. 

This power is essential to the very existence of the gov- 
ernment. Requisitions are fruitless and idle. Every expe- 
dient proposed as an alternative, or to qualify this power, is 
replete with inconvenience. It appears to me, therefore, upon 
the whole, that this article stands much better, as it is, than 
in any other manner. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr Chairman, I do not presume to 
rise to discuss this clause, after the very able, and, in my 
opinion, unanswerable arguments which have been urged in 
favor of it ; but merely to c6rrect an error which fell from a 
respectable member (Mr. M'Dowall) on the other side. 

It was, that Congress, by interfering with the mode of 
elections, might continue themselves in office. I thought 
that this was sufficiently explained yesterday. There is 
nothing in the Constitution to empower Congress to con- 
tinue themselves longer than the time specified. It says, 
expressly, that the House of Representatives shall consist 
of members chosen for two years, and that the Senate shall 
be composed of senators chosen for six years. At the ex- 
piration of these terms, the right of election reverts to the 
people and the states ; nor is there any thing in the Con- 
stitution to warrant a contrary supposition. The clause al- 
luded to has no reference to the duration of members in 
Congress, but merely as to the time and manner of their 

Now that I am up, I beg leave to take notice of a sug 
gestion, that Congress could as easily borrow money when 
they had the ultimate power of laying taxes, as if they pos- 
sessed it in the first instance. I entirely differ from that 

{>?. DEBATES. [Iredell. 

opinion. Had Congress the immediate power, tnere would 
be no doubt the money would be raised. In the other mode, 
doubts might be entertained concerning it. For can any man 
suppose that if, for any reasons, the state legislatures did 
not think proper to pay their quotas, and Congress should be 
r.ompelled to lay taxes, it would not raise alarms in the 
state ? Is it not reasonable the people would be more apt 
to side with their state legislature, who indulged them, than 
with Congress, who imposed taxes upon them r They would 
say, " Had we been able to pay, our state legislature would 
have raised the money. They know and feel for our dis- 
tresses ; but Congress have no regard for our situation, and 
have imposed taxes on us we are unable to bear." This is, 
sir, what would probably happen. Language like this would 
be the high road to popularity. In all countries, particularly 
in free ones, there are many ready to catch at such opportu- 
nities of making themselves of consequence with the people: 
General discontent would probably ensue, and a serious 
quarrel take place between the general and the state govern- 
ments. Foreigners, who would view our situation narrowly 
before ihey lent their money, would certainly be less willing 
to risk it on such contingencies as these, than if they knew 
there was a direct fund for their payment, from which no ill 
consequences could be apprehended. The difference be- 
tween those who are able to borrow, and those who are not, 
IS extremely great. Upon a critical emergency, it may be 
mipossible to raise the full sum wanted immediately upon 
the people. In this case, if the public credit is good, they 
may borrow a certain sum, and raise for the present only 
enough to pay the interest, deferring the payment of the 
principal till the public is more able to bear it. In the other 
case, where no money can be borrowed, there is no resource, 
if the whole sum cannot be raised immediately. The dif- 
ference, perhaps, may be stated as twenty to one. A hun- 
dred thousand pounds, therefore, may be wanted in the one 
case ; five thousand pounds may be sufficient, for the present, 
in the other. Sure this is a difference of the utmost moment. 
I should not have risen at all, were it not for the strong im- 
pression which might have been made by the error com 
mitted by the worthy gentleman on the other side. I hope 
[ shall be excused for the time I have taken up with the ad- 
ditional matter, though it was only staling what had been 
urged with great propriety before. 

Johnston.] NORTH CAROLINA. 9J 

Mr. GOUDY. Mr. Chairman, this is a dispute whether 
ongress shall have great, enormous powers. I am not 
ble to follow these learned gentlemen through all the laby- 
**inths of their oratory. Some represent us as rich, and not 
Soonest ; and others again represent us as honest, and not 
K-ich. We have no gold or silver, no substantial money, to 
j)ay taxes with. This clause, with the clause of elections, 
'Will totally destroy our liberties. The subject of our con- 
sideration therefore is, whether it be proper to give any man, 
€)r set of men, an unlimited power over our purse, without 
any kind of control. The purse-strings are given up by this 
clause. The sword is also given up by this system, h 
there no danger in giving up lx)th? There is no diingei, 
we are told. It may be so ; but I am jealous and suspicious 
of the liberties of mankind. And if it be a character which 
no man wishes but myself, I am willing to take it. Suspi- 
cions, in small communities, are a pest to mankind ; but in a 
matter of this magnitude, which concerns the interest of 
millions yet unborn, suspicion is a very noble virtue. Let 
us see, therefore, how far we give power ; for when it is once 
given, we cannot take it away. It is said that those who 
formed this Constitution were great and good men. We do 
not dispute it. We also admit that great and learned people 
have adopted it. But I have a judgment of my own ; and, 
though not so well informed always as others, yet I will exert 
it when manifest danger presents itself. When the power of 
the purse and the sword is given up, we dare not think foi 
ourselves. In case of war, the last man and the last penny 
would be extorted from us. That the Constitution has a 
tendency to destroy the state governments, must be clear to 
every man of common understanding. Gentlemen, by their 
learned arguments, endeavor to conceal the danger from us. 
I have no notion of this method of evading arguments, and 
of clouding them over with rhetoric, and, I must say, soph- 
istry too. But I hope no man will be led astray with 

Gov. JOHNSTON observed, that if any sophistical argu- 
ments had been made use of, they ought to be pointed out , 
and nobody could doubt that it was in the power of a 
learned divine (alluding to Mr. Caldwell) to show their 

Gov. Johnston, being informed of his mistake in taking 
Mr. Goudy for Mr. Caldwell, apologized for it. 

94 DEBATES. [Maclaikb 

Mr PORTER. Mr Chairman, I must say that I think 
the gentleman last up was wrong; for the other gentleman 
was, in my opinion, right. This is a money clause. I 
would fain know whence this power originates. I have 
heard it said that the legislature were villains, and that this 
power was to be exercised by the representatives of the 
people. When a building is raised, it should be on solid 
ground. Every gentleman must agree that we should not 
build a superstructure on a foundation of villains. Gentle- 
men say that the mass of the people are honest. I hope 
gentlemen will consider that we should build the structure 
on the people, and not on the representatives of the people 
Agreeably to the gentleman's argument, (Mr Hill,) our rep- 
resentatives will be mere villains. I expect that very 
learned arguments, and powerful oratory, will be displayed 
on this occasion. I ex|>ect that the great cannon from Hali- 
fax (meaning Mr Davie) will discharge fire-balls among us ; 
but large batteries are often taken by small arms. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH wished that gentlemen would 
desist from making personal reflections. He was of opinion 
that it was wrong to do so, and incompatible with their duty 
to their constituents ; that every man had a right to dis- 
play his abilities, and he hoped they would no longer reflect 
ui)on one another. 

From the 2d to the 8th clause read without any observa- 

9th clause read 

S(»veral members wished to hear an explanation of this 
chaise. Mr. MACLAINE looked upon this as a very val- 
uable part of the Constitution, because it consulted the 
ease and convenience of the people at large ; for that, if 
the Supreme Court were at one fixed place, and no other 
tribunals established, nothing could possibly be more in- 
jurious ; that it was therefore necessary that Congress 
should have power to constitute tribunals in different states, 
for th(» trial of common causes, and to have appeals to the 
Supreme Court in matters of more magnitude — that that 
was his idea, but, if not satisfactory, he trusted other gen- 
tlemen would explain it — that it would be more explained 
when they came to the judiciary. 

The 10th and 11th clauses read without any observation. 

12th clause read 


Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, this clause is of sc> 
much importance, that we ought to consider it with the 
loost serious attention. It is a power vested in Congress, 
which, in my opinion, is absolutely indispensable ; yet there 
have been, perhaps, more objections made to it than any 
)lher power vested in Congress. For my part, I will ob- 
serve generally that, so far from being displeased with that 
jealousy and extreme caution with which gentlemen consider 
every power proposed to be given to this government, they 
give me the utmost satisfaction. 

I believe the passion for liberty is stronger in America 
than in any other country in the world. Here every man 
fi strongly impressed with its importance, and every breast 
glows for the preservation of it. Every jealousy, not in- 
compiitible with the indispensable principles of government, 
is to be commended ; but these principles must at all events 
be observed. The powers of government ought to be com- 
petent to the public safety. This, indeed, is the primary 
object of all governments. It is the duty of gentlemen who 
form a constitution to take care that no power should be 
wanting which the safety of the community requires. The 
exigencies of the country must be provided for, not only in 
respect to common and usual cases, but for occasions which 
do not frequently occur. If such a provision is not made, 
critical occasions may arise, when there must be either a 
usurpation of power, or the public safety eminently endan- 
gered ; for, besides the evils attending a frequent change of 
a constitution, the case may not admit of so slow a remedy. 
In considering the powers that ought to be vested in any gov- 
ernment, possible abuses ought not to be pointed out, with- 
out at the same time considering their use. No power, of 
any kind or degree, can be given but what may be abused; 
we have, therelbre, only to consider whether any particular 
power is absolutely necessary. If it be, the power must 
be given, and we must run the risk of the abuse, considering 
our risk of this evil as one of the conditions of the imperfect 
state of human nature, where there is no good without the 
mixture of some evil. At the same time, it is undoubtedly 
our duly to guard against abuses as much as possible. In 
America, we enjoy peculiar blessings ; the people are dis- 
tinguished by the possession of freedom in a very high de- 
gree, unmixed with those oppressions the freest countries 


in Europe sufler. But we ought to consider that in this 
country, as well as in others, it is equally necessary to re- 
strain and suppress internal commotions, and to guard against 
foreign hostility. There is, I believe, no govenmient in the 
world without a power to raise armies. In some countries 
in Europe, a great force is necessary to be kept up, to guard 
against those numerous armies maintained by many sover- 
eigns there, where an army belonging to one government 
alone sometimes amounts to two hundred thousand or four 
hundred thousand men. Happily, we are situated at a 
great distance from them, and the inconsiderable power to 
the north of us is not likely soon to he very formidable 
But though our situation places us at a remote danger, i" 
cannot be pretended we are in no danger at all. I believe 
there is no man who has written on this subject, but han 
admitted that this power of raising armies is necessary in 
time of war ; but they do not choose to admit of it in a 
time of peace. It is to be hoped that, in time of peace, 
there will not be occasion, at any time, but for a very small 
number of forces; possibly, a few garrisons may be neces- 
sary to guard the frontiers, and an insurrection like that 
lately in Massachusetts might require some troops. But a 
time of war is the time when the power would probably 
be exerted to any extent. Let us, however, consider the 
consequences of a limitation of this power to a time of war 
only. One moment's consideration will show the impolicy 
of it in the most glaring manner. We certainly ought to 
guard against the machinations of other countries. We 
know not what designs may be entertained against us ; but 
surely, when known, we ought to endeavor to counteract 
their effects. Such designs mav be entertained in a time 
of profound peace, as well as after a declaration of war. 
Now suppose, for instance, our government had received 
i-ertain intelligence that the British government had formed 
a scheme to attack New York, next April, with ten thou- 
sand men ; would it not be proper immediately to prepare 
against it ? — and by so doing the scheme might be defeated. 
But if Congress had no such power, because it was a time 
of peace, the place must fall the instan* it was attacked ; 
and it might take years to recover what might at first have 
been seasonably defended. This restriction, therefore, can- 
not take place with safety to the community, and the power 

Uedeix.] north CABXXLINA. 97 

HKist of course be left to the direction of the general govern- 
ment. I hope there will be little necessity for the exercise 
of this power ; and I trust that the universal resentment 
and resistance of the people will meet every attempt to 
abuse this or aoy other power. That high spirit for which 
they are distinguished, I hope, will ever exist; and it 
probably will as long as we have a republican form of gov- 
ernment. Every man feels a consciousness of a personal 
equality and independence. Let him look at any part of 
the continent, — he can see no superiors. This personal in- 
dependence is the surest safeguard of the public freedom. 
But is it probable that our own representatives, chosen for a 
limited time, can be capable of destroying themselves, their 
families and fortunes, even if they have no regard to their 
public duty ? When such considerations are involved, surely 
it is very unlikely that they will attempt to raise an army 
against the liberties of their country. Were we to establish 
an hereditary nobility, or a set of men who were to have 
exclusive privileges, then, indeed, our jealousy might be well 
grounded. But, fortunately, we have no such. The re- 
striction contended for, of no standing army in time of peace, 
forms a part of our own state Constitution. What has been 
the consequence ? In December, 1786, the Assembly 
flagrantly violated it, by raising two hundred and one men, 
for two years, for the defence of Davidson county. I do 
not deny that the intention might have been good, and that 
the Assembly really thought the situation of that part of 
the country required such a defence. But this makes the 
argument still stronger against the impolicy of such a re- 
striction, since our own experience points out the danger 
resulting from it ; for I take it for granted, that we could 
not at that time be said to be in a state of war. Dreadful 
might the condition of this countiy«be without this power. 
We must trust our friends or trust o«lr enemies. There is 
one restriction on this [lower, whicih I believe is the only 
one that ought to be put upon it. ^t)*i 

Though Congress are to have the power of raising and 
supporting armies, yet they cannot appropriate money for 
th «t purpose for a longer time than two years. Now, we 
will suppose that the majority of the two houses should be 
capable of making a bad use of this power, and should ap- 
propriate more money to raise an army than is necessary 

VOL. IV. 13 ^ 

98 DEBATES. [Ircobix. 

Tlie appropriation, we have seen, cannot be constitutional for 
more than two years. Within that time it might command 
obedience. But at the end of the second year from the first 
choice, the whole House of Representatives must l)e re 
chosen, and also one third of the Senate. The people, 
being inflamed with the abuse of power of the old members, 
would turn them out with indignation. Upon their return 
home, they would meet the universal execrations of their 
fellow-citizens. Instead of the grateful plaudits of their 
country, so dear to every feeling mind, they would be treated 
with the utmost resentment and contempt; their names 
would be held in everlasting infamy ; and their measures 
would be instantly reprobated and changed by the new 
members. In two years, a system of tyranny certainly could 
not succeed in the face of the whole people ; and the appro- 
priation could not be with any safety for less than that 
period. If it depended on an annual vote, the consequence 
might be, that, at a critical' period, when military operations 
were necessary, the troops would not know whether they 
were entitled to pay or not, and could not safely act till 
they knew that the annual vote had passed. To refuse this 
power to the government, would be to invite insults and 
attacks from other nations. Let us not, for God's sake, be 
guilty of such indiscretion as to trust our enemies' mercy, 
but give, as is our duty, a sufficient power to government to 
protect their cfjuntry, — guarding, at the same time, against 
abuses as well as we can. We well know what this country 
suffered by the ravages of the British army during the war. 
How could we have been saved but by an army? Without 
that resource we should soon have felt the miserable conse- 
quences ; and this day, instead of having the honor — the 
greatest any peo|)le ever enjoyed — to choose a government 
which our reason recommends, we should have been groan- 
ing under the most intolerable tyranny that was ever felt. 
We ought not to think these dangers are entirely over. The 
British government is not friendly to us. They dread the 
rising glory of America. They tremble for the West Indies, 
and their colonies to the north of us. They have counter- 
acted us on every occasion since the peace. Instead of a 
jberal and reciprocal commerce, they hiive attempted to 
confine us to a most narrow and ignominious one. Their 
pride is still irritated with the disappointment of their en- 


deavors to enslave us. They know that, on the record of 
history, their conduct towards us must appear in the most dis- 
graceful light. Let it also appear, on the record of history, 
that America was equally wise and fortunate in peace as well 
as in war. Let it be said that, with a temper and unanimity 
unexampled, they corrected the vices of an imperfect gov- 
ernment, and framed a new one on the basis of justice and 
liberty ; that, though all did not concur in approving the 
particular structure of this government, yet that the minority 
peaceably and respectfully submitted to the decision of the 
greater number. This is a spectacle so great, that, if it 
should succeed, this must be considered the greatest country 
under heaven; for there is no instance of any such deliber- 
ate change of government in any other nation that ever 
existed. But how would it gratify the pride of our enemy 
to say, " We could not conquer you, but you have ruined 
yourselves. You have foolishly quarrelled about trifles. You 
are unfit for any government whatever. You have separated 
from us, when you were unable to govern yourselves, and 
you now deservedly feel all the horrors of anarchy." I beg 
pardon for saying so much. 1 did not intend it when I be- 
gan. But the consideration of one of the most important 
parts of the plan excited all my feelings on the subject. I 
speak without any affectation in expressing my apprehension 
of foreign dangers: the belief of them is strongly impressed 
on my mind. I hope, therefore, the gentlemen of the com- 
mittee will excuse the warmth with which I have spoken. 
I shall now take leave of the subject. I flatter myself that 
gentlemen will see that this power is absolutely necessary, 
and must be vested somewhere ; that it can be vested no- 
where so well as in the general government; and that it is 
guarded by the only restriction which the nature of the thing 
will admit of. 

Mr. HARDIMAN desired to know, if the people were 
attacked or harassed in any part of the state, — if on the 
frontiers, for instance, — whether they must not apply to the 
state legislature for assistance. 

Mr. IREDELL replied, that he admitted that application 
might be immediately m ide to the state legislature, and that, 
tiy the plan under consideration, the strength of the Union 
was to be exerted to repel invasions of foreign enemies and 
suppress domestic insurrections ; and that the possibilitv of 

100 DEBATES. llnwjxL. 

an instantaneous and unexpected attack, in time of profound 
peace, illustrated the danger of restricting the power of rais- 
ing and supporting armies. 

The rest of the 8th section read without any observation* 

1st clause of the 9th section read. 

Mr. J. M'DOWALL wished to hear the reasons of thisi 

Mr. SPAIGHT answered, that there was a contest be- 
tween the Northern and Southern States ; that the Southern 
States, whose principal support depended on the labor ot 
slaves, would not consent to the desire of the Northern 
States to exclude the importation of slaves absolutely ; that 
South Carolina and Georgia insisted on this clause, as they 
were now in want of hands to cultivate their lands; that in 
the course of twenty years they would be fully supplied ; 
that the trade would be abolished then, and that, in the 
mean time, some tax or duty might be laid on. 

Mr. M'DOWALL replied, that the explanation was just 
Ruch as he expected, and by no means satisfactory to him, 
and that he looked upon it, as a very objectionable part of 
the system. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I rise to express senti- 
ments similar to those of the gentleman from Craven. For 
my part, were it practicable to put an end to the importa- 
tion of slaves immediately, it would give me the greatest 
pleasure ; for it certainly is a trade utterly inconsistent with 
the rights of humanity, and under which great cruelties 
have been exercised. When the entire abolition of slavery 
takes place, it will be an event which must be pleasing to 
every generous mind, and every friend of human nature ; but 
we often wish for things which are not attainable. It was 
the wish of a great majority of the Convention to put an 
end to the trade immediately ; but the states of South Car- 
olina and Georgia would not agree to it. Consider, then, 
what would be the difference between our present situation 
in this respect, if we do not agree to the Constitution, and 
what it \vill be if we do agree to it. If we do not agiee 
to it, do we remedy the evil ? No, sir, we do not. For if 
the Constitution be not adopted, it will be in the power of 
every state to continue it forever. They may or may no! 
abolish it, at their discretion. ' But if we adopt ♦h** Con- 
stitution, the trade must cease after twenty years, it Con- 

Galloway.] NORTH CAROLINA. lOl 

gress declare so, whether particular states please so or not ; 
surely, then, we can gain by it. This was the urinost that 
could be obtained. 1 heartily wish more could have been 
done. But as it is, this government is nobly distinguished 
above others by that very provision. Where is there another 
country in which such a restriction prevails? We, there- 
fore, sir, set an example of humanity, by providing for the 
abolition of this inhuman traffic, though at a distant period. 
1 hope, therefore, that this part of the Constitution will not 
be condemned because it has not stipulated for what was 
impracticable to obtain. 

Mr. SPAIGHT further explained the clause. That the 
limitation of this trade to the term of twenty years was a^ 
compromise between the Eastern States and the Southern 
States. South Carolina and Georgia wished to extend the 
term. The Eastern States insisted on the entire abolition 
of the trade. That the state of North Carolina had not 
thought proper to pass any law prohibiting the importation 
of slaves, and therefore its delegation in the Convention did 
not think themselves authorized to contend for an immediate 
prohibition of it. 

Mr. IREDELL added to what he had said before, that 
the states of Georgia and South Carolina bad lost a great 
many slaves during the war, and that they wished to supply 
the loss. 

Mr. GALLOWAY. Mr. Chairman, the explanation giv- 
en to this clause does not satisfy my mind. I wish to see 
this abominable trade put an end to. But in case it be 
thought proper to continue this abominable traffic for twenty 
years, yet I do not wish to see the tax on the importatioq 
extended to all persons whatsoever. Our situation is dif- 
ferent from the people to the north. We want citizens; 
they do not. Instead of laying a tax, we ought to give a 
bounty to encourage foreigners to come among us. With 
respect to the abolition of slavery, it requires the utmost 
consideration. The property of the Southern States consists 
principally of slaves. If they mean to do away slavery al- 
together, this property will be destroyed. I apprehend it 
means to bring forward manumission. If we must manu- 
mit our slaves, what country shall we send them to? It it 
impossible for us to be happy, if, after manumission, thev 
are to stay amonfr us. 

102 DEBATES. [Datib 

Mr. IREDFLL. Mr. Chairman, the worthy gentleman, 
I believe, has misunderstood this clause, which runs in the 
following words : " The migration or importation of such 
persons as any of the states now existing shall think ()roper 
to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to 
the year 1808; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such 
importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person." 
Now, sir, observe that the Eastern States, who long ago 
have abolished slaves, did not approve of the expression 
slaves; they therefore used another, that answered the same 
purpose. The committee will observe the distinction be- 
tween the two words migration and importation. The first 
part of the clause will extend to persons who come into this 
country as free people, or are brought as slaves. But the last 
part extends to slaves only. The word migration refers to 
free persons ; but the word importation refers to slaves, be- 
cause free people cannot be said to be imported. The tax, 
therefore, is only to be laid on slaves who are imported, and 
not on free persons who migrate. I further beg leave to say 
that the gentleman is mistaken in another thing. He seems 
to say that this extends to the abolition of slavery. Is there 
anything in this Constitution which says that Congress shall 
have it in their power to abolish the slavery of those slaves 
who are now in the country ? Is it not the plain meaning 
of it, that after twenty years they may prevent the future 
importation of slaves ? It does not extend to those now in 
the country. There is another circumstance to be observed. 
There is no authority vested in Congress to restrain the 
states, in the interval of twenty years, from doing what they 
please. If they wish to prohibit such importation, they may 
do so. Our next Assembly may put an entire end to the 
importation of slaves. 

The rest of the 9lh section read without any observation. 

Article 2d, section 1st. 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman, I must express my aston 
ishment at the precipitancy with which we go through this 
business. Is it not highly improper to pass over in silence 
any part of this Constitution which has been loudly objected 
tor We go into a committee to have a freer discussion. I 
am sorry to see gentlemen hurrying us through, and sup- 
pressing their objections, in order to bring them forward at 
an unseasonable hour. We are assembled here to deliberate 


for our own common welfare, and to decide upon a question 
of infinite importance to our country. What is the cause ol 
this silence and gloomy jealousy in gentlemen of the oppo- 
sition ? This department has been universally objected tc 
by them. The most virulent invectives, the most oppro- 
brious epithets, and the most indecent scurrility, have been 
used and applied against this part of the Constitution. Ir 
has been represented as incompatible with any degree of 
freedom. Why, therefore, do not gentlemen offer their ob- 
jections now, that we may examine their force, if they have 
any? The clause meets my entire approbation. I only 
rise to show the principle on which it was formed. The 
principle is, the separation of the executive from the legis- 
lative — a principle which pervades all free governments. 
A dispute arose in the Convention concerning the reeligi- 
bility of the President. It was the opinion of the deputation 
from this state, that he should be elected for five or seven 
years, and be afterwards ineligible. It was urged, in sup- 
port of this opinion, that the return of public officers into the 
common mass of the people, where they would feel the tone 
they had given to the administration of the laws, was the 
best security the public had for their good behavior ; that it 
would operate as a limitation to his ambition, at the same 
^ime that it rendered him more independent; that when 
once in possession of that office, he would move heaven and 
earth to secure his reelection, and perhaps become the crin- 
ging dependant of influential men ; that our opinion was 
supported by some experience of the effects of this principle 
in several of the states. A large and very respectable ma- 
jority were of the contrary opinion. It was said that such 
an exclusion would be improper for many reasons ; that if 
an enlightened, upright man had discharged the duties of 
the office ably and faithfully, it would be depriving the peo- 
ple of the benefit of his ability and experience, though they 
highly approved of him ; that it would render the President 
less ardent in his endeavors to acquire the esteem and ap- 
probation of his country, if he knew that he would be abso- 
lutely excluded after a given period ; and that it would be 
depriving a man of singular merit even of the rights of citi 
zenship. It was also said, that the day might come, when 
the confidence of America would be put in one man, and 
*hat it might be dangerous to exclude such a man from the 

t U4 DEBAT ES. [Sr Aiort 

service of his country. It was urged, likewise, fhat no un- 
due influence could take place in his election; that, as he 
was to be elected on the same day throughout the United 
J^tates, no man could say to himself, / am to he the man. 
tinder these considerations, a large, respectable majority 
voted for it as it now stands. With respect to the unity of 
the executive, the superior energy and secrecy wherewith 
one person can act, was one of the principles on which the 
Convention went. But a more predominant principle was, 
the more obvious responsibility of one person. It was ob- 
served that, if there were a plurality of persons, and a crime 
should be committed, when their conduct came to be ex 
amined, it would be impossible to fix the fact on any one of 
them, but that the public were never at a loss when there 
was but one man. For these reasons, a great majority con- 
curred in the unity, and reeligibility also, of the executive. 
I thought proper to show the spirit of the deputation from 
this state. However, I heartily concur in it as it now stands, 
and the mode of his election precludes every possibility of 
corruption or improper influence of any kind. 

Mr. JOSEPH TAYLOR thought it improper to object 
on every trivial case ; that this clause had been argeied on in 
some degree before, and that it would lie a useless waste 
of time to dwell any longer upon it ; that if they had the 
power of amending the Constitution, every part need not 
be discussed, as some were not objectionable ; and that, 
for his own part, he would object when any essential defect 
came before the house. 

2d, 3d, and 4th clauses read. 

Mr. J. TAYLOR objected to the power of Congress to 
determine the time of choosing the electors, and to deter- 
n.ine the time of electing the President, and urged that it 
was improper to have the election on the same day through- 
cut the United States ; that Congress, not satisfied with 
their power over the time, place, and manner of elections of 
representatives, and over the time and manner of elections 
,)f senators, and their power of raising an army, wished like- 
wise to control the election of the electors of the President , 
that by their army, and the election being on the same day 
in all the* states, they might compel the electors to vote as 
ti.ey please. 

Mr SPAIGHT answered, that the time of choosing 'ihe 


electors was to be determined by Congress, for the sake ot 
regularity and uniformity ; that, if the states were to deter- 
mine it, one might appoint it at one day, and another at 
another, &c. ; and that the election being on the same day 
10 all the states, vvpnld prevent a combination between the 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, it gives me great aston- 
ishment to hear this objection, because I thought this to be 
a most excellent clause. Nothing is more necessary than to 
prevent every danger of influence. Had the time of election 
been different in diflerent states, the electors chosen in one 
state might have gone from state to state^ and conferred 
with the other electors, and the election might have l)een 
thus carried on under undue influence. But by this pro- 
vision, the electors must meet in the different states on the 
same day, and cannot confer together. They may not even 
know who are the electors in the other states. There can 
be, therefore, no kind of combination. It is probable that 
the man who is the olgect of the choice of thirteen different 
states, the electors in each voting unconnectedly with the 
rest, must be a person who possesses, in a high degree, the 
confidence and respect of his country. 

Gov. JOHNSTON expressed doubts with respect to the 
persons by whom the electors were to be appointed. Some, 
he said, were of opinion that the people at large were to 
choose them, and others thought the state legislatures were 
to appoint them. 

Mr. IREDELL was of opinion that it could not be done 
uith propriety by the state legislatures, because, as they 
were to direct the manner of appointing, a law would look 
very awkward, which should say, " They gave the power of 
such appointments to themselves." 

Mr. MACLAINE thought the state legislatures might 
direct the electors to be chosen in what manner they thought 
proper, and they might direct it to be done by the people at 

Mr. DAVIE was of opinion, that it was left to the wisdom 
of the legislatures to direct their election in whatever manner 
they thought proper. 

Mr. TAYLOR still thought the |X)wer improper with re- 
spect to the time of choosing the electors. This power ap- 
peared to him to belong properly to the state legislatures; 

VOL. IV. 14 

106 DEBATES. [luDKL^ 

nor could he see any purpose it could answer but that of an 
augmentation of the congressional i)owers, which, he said, 
were too great already ; that by this i)ower they might pro- 
long the elections to seven years, and that, though this would 
be in direct opposition to another part of the Constitution, 
sophistry would enable them to reconcile them. 

Mr. SPAIGHT replied, that he was surprised that the 
gentleman objected to the power of Congress to determine 
the time of choosing the electors, and not to that of fixing 
tlie day of the election of the President ; that the power in 
the one case could not possibly answer the purpose of uni 
formity without having it in the other ; that the power, in 
both cases, could be exercised properly only by one general 
superintending power; that, if Congress had not this power, 
there would be no uniformity at all, and that a great deal of 
time would be taken up in order to agree upon the time. 

Monday, July 28, 1788. 

The 2d section of the 2d article read. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, this part of the Con 
stitution has been much objected to. The office of superin- 
tending the execution of the laws of the Union is an office 
of the utmost importance. It is of the greatest consequence 
to the happiness of the people of America, that the person to 
whom this great trust is delegated should be worthy of it. 
It would require a man of abilities and experience ; it would 
also require a man who possessed, in a high degree, the con- 
fidence of his country. This being the case, it would be a 
great defect, in forming a constitution for the United States, 
if it was so constructed that, by any accident, an improper 
person could have a chance to obtain that office. The com- 
mittee will recollect that the President is to be elected b^ 
electors appointed by each state, according to the number of 
senators and representatives to which the state may be en- 
titled in the Congress ; that they are to meet on the same 
day throughout the states, and vote by ballot for two persons, 
one of whom shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with 
themselves. These votes are afterwards to be transmitted, 
under seal, to the seat of the general government. The per- 
son who has the greatest number of votes, if it be a majority 
of the whole, will be the President. If more than one havti 
a majority, and equal votes, the House of Representatives 


are to choose one of them. If none have a majority of votes, 
then the House of Representatives are to choose which of thu 
persons they think proper, out of the five highest on the list. 
The person having ihe next greatest number of votes is to 
be the Vice-President, unless two or more should have equal 
votes, in which case the Senate is to choose one of them for 
V'ice-President. If I recollect right, these are the principal 
characteristics. Thus, sir, two men will be in office at the 
same time ; the President, who possesses, in the highest de- 
gree, the confidence of his country, and the Vice-President, 
who is thought to be the next person in the Union most fit 
to perform this trust. Here, sir, every contingency is pro- 
vided for. No faction or combination can bring about the 
election. It is probable that the choice will always fall U|)on 
a man of experienced abilities and fidelity. In all human 
prob.ibility, no better mode of election could have been 

The rest of the 1st section read without any observations 

2d section read. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I was in hopes that 
some other gentleman would have spoken to this clause. 
It conveys very important powers, and ought not to l)e 
passed by. I beg leave, in as few words as possible, to speak 
ray sentiments upon it. I believe most of the governors of 
the different states have powers similar to those of the Pres- 
ident. In almost every country, the executive has the com- 
mand of the military forces. From the nature of the thing, the 
command of armies ought to be delegated to one person only. 
The secrecy, despatch, and decision, which are necessary in 
military operations, can only be expected from one person. 
The President, therefore, is to command the military forces 
of the United States, and this power I think a proper one ; 
at the same time it will be found to be sufficiently guarded. 
A very material difference may be observed between this 
power, and the authority of the king of Great Britain under 
similar circumstances. The king of Great Britain is not 
onlv the commander-in-chief of the land and naval forces, 
hut has power, in time of war, to raise fleets and armies. 
He has also authority to declare war. The President has 
not the power of declaring war by his own authority, nor 
that of raising fleets and armies. These powers are vested 
in other hands. The power of declaring war is expressly 

lOe DEBATES. [Iredell. 

given to Congress, that is, to the two branches of the legi^ 
lature — ihe Senate, composed of representatives of the state 
legislatures, the House of Representatives, deputed by the 
people at large. They have also expressly delegated to 
them the povrers of raising and supporting armies, and of 
providing and maintaining a navy. 

With regard to the militia, it must be observed, that though 
he has the command of them when called into the actual 
service of the United States, yet he has not the power of 
calling them out. The power of calling them out is vested 
in Congress, for the purpose of executing the laws of the 
Union. When the militia are called out for any purpose, 
some person must command them ; and who so proper as 
that person who has the best evidence of his possessing the 
general confidence of the people? I trust, therefore, that 
the power of commanding the militia, when called forth into 
the actual service of the United States, will not be object- 
ed to. 

The next part, which says " that he may require the opin- 
ion in writing of the principal officers," is, in some degree, 
substituted for a council. He is only to consult them if he 
thinks proper. Their opinion is to be given him in writing. 
By this means he will be aided by their intelligence ; and 
the necessity of their opinions being in writing, will render 
them more cautious in giving them, and make them respon- 
sible should they give advice manifestly improper. This 
does not diminish the responsibility of the President himself. 

They might otherwise have colluded, and opinions have 
been given too much under his influence. 

it has l)een the opinion of many gentlemen, that the Pres- 
ident should have a council. This opinion, probably, has 
been derived from the example in England. It would be 
very proper for every gentleman to consider attentively 
whether that example ought to be imitated by us. Although 
it be a respectable example, yet, in my opinion, very satis- 
factory reas')ns can be assigned for a de|)arture from it in 
this Constitution. 

It was very difficult, immediately on our separation from 
Great Britain, to disengage ourselves entirely from ideas of 
government we had been used to. We had been accustomed 
to a council under the old government, and took it for 
granted we ought to have one under the new. But ex- 


^mples ought not to be implicitly followed ; and the feasants 
'^vhich prevail in Great Britain for a council do not apply 
^ually to us. In that country, the executive authority is 
nested in a magistrate who holds it by birthright. He has 
l^reat powers and prerogatives, and it is a constitutional 
maxim, that he can do no wrong. We have experienced 
that he can do wrong, yet no man can say so in his okvu 
country. There are no courts to try him for any high 
crimes ; nor is there any constitutional method of depriving 
him of his throne. If he loses it, it must be by a general 
resistance of his people, contrary to forms of law, as at the 
revolution which took place about a hundred years ago. It 
is, therefore, of the utmost moment in that country, that 
whoever is the instrument of any act of government should 
be personally responsible for it, since the king is not ; and, 
for the same reason, that no act of government should be 
exercised but by the instrumentality of some person who can 
be accountable for it. Every thing, therefore, that the king 
does, must be by some advice^ and the adviser of course 
answerable. Under our Constitution we are much happier. 
No man has an authority to injure another with impunity. 
No man is better than his fellow-citizens, nor cm pretend to 
any superiority over the meanest man in the country. If the 
President does a sinde act by which the people are preju- 
diced, he is punishable himself, and no other man merely 
10 screen him. If he commits any misdemeanor in office, he 
is impeachable, removable from office, and incapacitated to 
hold any office of honor, trust, or profit. If he commits any 
crime, he is punishable by the laws of his country, and in 
capital cases may be deprived of his life. This being the 
case, there is not the same reason here for having a council 
which exists in England. It is, however, much to be desired, 
that a man who has such extensive and important business 
to perform should have the means of some assistance to 
enable him to discharge his arduous employment. The 
advice of the principal executive officers, which he can at all 
tiaies command, will, in my opinion, answer this valuable 
Purpose. He can at no time want advice, if he desires it, 
as the principal officers will always be on the spot. Those 
officers, from their abilities and experience, will probably be 
able to give as good, if not better, advice than any coun- 
sellors would do ; and the solemnity of the advice in writing, 


110 DEBATES. [Iredell 

which must be preserved, would be a great check upon m 

Besides these considerations, it was difficult for the Con- — 
vention to prepare a council that would be unexceptionable. « 
That jealousy which naturally exists between the difTerentJ 
states enhanced this difficulty. If a few counsellors were^^ 
tolHj chosen from the Northern, Southern, or Middle States, «« 
or from a few states only, undue preference might be given m 
to those particular states from which they should come. If, -. 
to avoid this difficulty, one counsellor should be sent from - 
each state, this would require great expense, which is a. 
consideration, at this time, of much moment, especially as it 
is probable that, by the method proposed, the President 
may be equally well advised without any expense at all. 

We ought also to consider that, had he a council by whose 
advice he was l)ound to act, his responsibility, in all such 
cases, must be destroyed. You surely would not oblige him 
to follow their advice, and punish him for obeying it. If 
called upon on any occasion of dislike, it would be natural 
for him to say, " You know my council are men of integrity 
and ability: I could not act against their opinions, though 
I confess my own was contrary to theirs." This, sir, would 
be pernicious. In such a situation, he might easily combine 
with his council, and it might be impossible to fix a fact 
upon him. It would be difficult often to know whether the 
President or counsellors were most to blame. A thousand 
plausible excuses might be made, which would escape de- 
tection. But the method proposed in the Constitution 
creates no such embarrassment. It is plain and open. 
And thiB President will personally have the credit of good, 
or the censure of bad measures ; since, though he may ask 
advice, he is to use his own judgment in following or re- 
jecting it. For all these reasons, I am clearly of opinion that 
the clause is better as it stands than if the President were 
to have a council. I think every good that can be derived 
from the institution of a council may be expected from the 
advice of these officers, without its being liable to the dis- 
advantages to which, it appears to me, the institution of a 
council would be. 

Another power that he has is to grant pardons, except in 
rases of impeachment. I believe it is the sense of a great 
part of America, that this power should be exercised by their 

Ibcdei.1^] north CAROLINA 111 

governors. It is in several states on the same footing 
that it is here. It is the genius of a republican government 
that tlie laws should be rigidly executed, without the in- 
fluence of favor or ill-will — that, when a man commits a 
crime, however powerful he or his friends may be, yet he 
should be punished for it ; and, on the otheV hand, though 
he should be universally hated by his country, his real guilt 
alone, as to the particular charge, is to operate against him. 
This strict and scrupulous observance of justice is proper in 
all governments; but it is particularly indispensable in a 
republican one, because, in such a government, the law is 
superior to every man, and no man is superior to another. 
But, though this general principle be unquestionable, surely 
there .is no gentleman in the committee who is Miot aware 
that there ought to be exceptions to it ; because there may 
be many instances where, though a man offends against the 
letter of the law, yet peculiar circumstances in his case may 
entitle him to mercy. It is impossible for any general law 
to foresee and provide for all possible cases that may arise ; 
and therefore an inflexible adherence to it, in every instance, 
might frequently be the cause of very great injustice. For 
this reason, such a power ought to exist somewhere ; and 
where could it be more properly vested, than in a man who 
had received such strong proofs of his possessing the highest 
confidence of the people ? This power, however, only refers 
to offences against the United States, and not against 
particular states. Another reason for the President pos- 
sessing this authority, is this : it is often necessary to convict 
a man by means of his accomplices. We have sufficient 
experience of that in this country. A criminal would often 
go unpunished, were not this method to be pursued against 
iiim. in my opinion, till an accomplice's own danger is 
removed, his evidence ought to be regarded with great 
diffidence. If, in civil causes of property, a witness must 
be entirely disinterested, how much more proper is it he 
should be so in cases of life and death ! This power is 
naturally vested in the President, because it is his duty tn 
watch over the public safety ; and as that may frequently 
require the evidence of accomplices to bring great offenders 
to- justice, he ought to be intrusted with the most effectual 
means of procuring it. 
I heg leave further to observe, that, for another reason, I 

1 12 DEBATES. [Iaedell. 

think there is a propriety in leaving this power to the general 
discretion of the executive magistrate, rather than to fetter 
it in any manner which has been pro})ose<L It may happen 
that many men, u|)on plausible pretences, may be seduced 
into very dangerous measures against their country. They 
may aim, by an insurrection, to redress imaginary grievances, 
at the same time believing, upon false suggestions, that their 
exertions are necessary to save their country from destruc- 
tion. Upon cool reflection, however, they |)ossibly are con- 
vinced of their error, and clearly see through the treachery 
and villany of their leaders. In this situation, if the Presi- 
dent possessed the power of pardoning, they probably would 
throw themselves on the equity of the government, and the 
whole body be peaceably broken up. Thus, at a critical 
moment, the President might, perhaps, prevent a civil war. 
But if there was no authority to pardon, in that delicate 
exigency, what would be the consequence ? The principle 
of self-preservation would prevent their parting. Would it 
not be natural for them to say, "We shall be punished if we 
disband. Were we sure of mercy, we would peaceably part. 
But we know not that there is any chance of this. We 
may as well meet one kind of death as another. We may 
as well die in the field as at the gallows." I therefore sub- 
mit to the committee if this power be not highly necessary 
for such a purpose. 

We have seen a happy instance of the good effect of such 
an exercise of mercy in the state of Massachusetts, where, 
very lately, there was so formidable an insurrection. I be- 
lieve a great majority of the insurgents were drawn into it 
by false artifices. They at length saw their error, and were 
willing to disband. Government, by a wise exercise of len- 
ity, after having shown its power, generally granted a pardon ; 
and the whole party were dispersed. There is now as much 
peace in that country as in any state in the Union. 

A particular instance which occurs to me shows the utility 
of this power very strongly. Suppose we were involved in 
war. It would be then necessary to know the designs of 
the enemy. This kind of knowledge cannot always be pro- 
cured but by means of spies — a set of wretches whom all 
nations despise, but whom all employ ; and, as they would 
assuredly be used against us, a principle of self-defence 
would urge and justify the use of them on our part. Sup- 

Iredell,] NORTH CAROLINA. 113 

pose, therefore, the President could prevail upon a man of 
some importance to go over to the enemy, in order to give him 
secret information of his measures. He got^s off privately 
to the enemy. He feigns resentment against his country 
for some ill usage, either real or pretended, and is received, 
possibly, into favor and confidence. The people would not 
know the purpose for which he was employed. In the mean 
time, he secretly informs the President of the enemy's de- 
signs, and by this means, perhaps, those designs are counter- 
acted, and the country saved from destruction. After bis 
business is executed, he returns into his own country, 
where the people, not knowing he had rendered them any 
service, are naturally exasperated against him for his sup- 
posed treason. I would ask any gentleman whether the 
President ought not to have the power of pardoning this 
man. Suppose the concurrence of the Senate, or any other 
body, was necessary ; would this obnoxious person be prop- 
erly safe ? We know in every country there is a strong 
prejudice against the executive authority. If a prejudice of 
this kind, on such an occasion, prevailed against the Presi- 
dent, the President might be suspected of being influenced 
by corrupt motives, and the application in favor of this man 
be rejected. Such a thing might very possibly happen when 
the prejudices of party were strong ; and therefore no man, 
so clearly entitled as in the case I have supposed, ought to 
have his life exposed to so hazardous a contingency. 

The power of impeachment is given by this Constitution, 
to bring great offenders to punisliment. It is calculated to 
bring them to punishment for crime which it is not easy to 
describe, but which every one must be convinced is a high 
crime and misdemeanor against the government. This 
power is lodged in those who represent the great body of 
the people, because the occasion for its exercise will arise 
from acts of great injury to the community, and the objects 
of it may be such as cannot be easily reached by an ordina- 
ry tribunal. The trial belongs to the Senate, lest an inferior 
tribunal should be too much awed by so powerful an accuser. 
After trial thus solemnly conducted, it is not probable that 
it would happen once in a thousand times, that a man actu- 
ally convicted would be entitled to mercy ; and if the Presi- 
dent had the power of pardoning in such a case, this great 
check upon high officers of state would lose much of its in- 

VOL. IV. 15 

114 DEBATES. [Sfaigbt 

fluenct^. It seems, therefore, proper that the general power 
of pardoning should be abridged in this particular instance. 
The punishment annexed to this conviction on impeachment 
can only be removal from office, and disqualification to bold 
any place of honor, trust, or profit. But the person convict- 
ed is further liable to a trial at common law, and may receive 
such common-law punishment as belongs to a description of 
such offiinces, if it be punishable by that law. I hope, for 
the reasons I have stated, that the whole of this clause will 
be approved by the committee. The regulations altogether, 
in my opinion, are as wisely contrived as they could be. It 
is impossible for imperfect beings to form a perfect system. 
If the present one may be productive of possible inconve- 
niences, we are not to reject it for that reason, but inquire 
whether any other system could be devised which would be 
attended with fewer inconveniences, in proportion to the 
advantages resulting. But we ought to be exceedingly at- 
tentive in examining, and still more cautious in deciding, lest 
we should condemn what may be worthy of applause, or 
approve of what may be exceptionable. I hope that, in the 
iixplanation of this clause, I have not improperly taken up 
«he time of the committee. 

Mr. MILLER acknowledged that the explanation of this 
ilause by the member from Edenton had obviated some ob- 
jections which he had to it ; but still he could .not entirely 
approve of it. He could not see the necessity of vesting 
this power in the President. He thought that his influence 
would be too great in the country, and particularly over the 
military, by bc»ing the commander-in-chief of the army, navy, 
and militia. He thought he could too easily abuse such ex- 
tensive powers, and was of opinion that Congress ought to 
have |K)wer to direct the motions of the army. He consid- 
ered it as a defect in the Constitution, that it was not ex- 
pressly provided that Congress should have the direction of 
the motions of the army. 

Mr. SPAIGHT answered, that it was true that the com- 
mand of the army and navy was given to the President ; 
but that Congress, who had the power of raising armies, 
could certainly prevent any abuse of that authority in the 
President — that they alone had the means of supporting 
armies, and that the President was impc^achabh* if he in any 
manner abused his trust. He was surprised that any objec- 

JoemyroN.] NORTH CAROLINA. 116 

tion should be made to giving the command of the army to 

one man ; that it was well known that the direction of an 
army could not be properly exercised by a numerous liody 
of men ; that Congress had, in the last war, given the ex- 
clusive command of the army to the commander-in-chief, 
and that if they had not done so, perhaps the independence 
of America would not have been established. 

Mr. PORTER. Mr. Chairman, there is a power vested 
in the Senate and President to make treaties, which shall l)e 
the supreme law of the land. Which among us can call 
them to account ? I always thought that there could be no 
proper exercise of power without the suffrage of the people ; 
yet the House of Representatives has no power to intermed- 
dle with treaties. The President and seven senators, as 
nearly as I can remember, can make a treaty which will be 
of great advantage to the Northern States, and equal injury 
to the Southern States. They might give up the rivers and 
territory of the Southern States. Yet, in the preamble of 
(he Constitution, they say all tiie people have done it. I 
should be glad to know what power there is of calling the 
President and Senate to account. 

Mr. SPAIGHT answered that, under the Confederation, 
two thirds of the states might make treaties; that, if the 
senators from all the states attended when a treaty was 
about to be made, two thirds of the states would have a 
voice in its formation. He added, that he would be glad to 
ask the gentleman what mode there was of calling the pres- 
ent Congress to account. 

Mr. PORTER repeated his objection. He hoped thai 
gentlemen would not impose on the house ; that the Presi 
dent could make treaties with two thirds of the senate < 
that the President, in that case, voted rather in a legislative 
than in an executive capacity, which he thought impolitic. 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, in my opinion, if 
there be any difference between this Constitution and the 
Confederation, with respect to treaties, the Constitution is 
more safe than the Confederation. We know that two 
members from each state have a right, by the Conf(?deration, 
to give the vote of that state, and two thirds of the states 
have a right also to make treaties. By this Constitution, 
'wo thirds of the senators cannot make treaties without the 
toQcunrence of the President. Here is, then, an additional 

lit DEBATES. [Spencer. 

guard. The calculation that seven or eight senators, with 
the President, can make treaties, is totally erroneous. Four- 
teen is a quorum ; two thirds of which are ten. It is upon 
the improbable supposition that they will not attend, that 
the objection is founded that ten men, with the President, 
can make treaties. Can it Ire reasonably supposed that 
they will not attend when the most important business is 
agitated — when the interests of their respective states are 
most immediately affected ? 

Mr. MACLAINE observed, that the gentleman was out 
of order with his objection — that they had not yet come to 
the clause which enables the Senate and President to make 

The 2d clause of the 2d section read. 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, I rise to declare my 
disapprobation of this, likewise. It is an essential article in 
our Constitution, that the legislative, the executive, and the 
supreme judicial powers, of government, ought to be forever 
separate and distinct from each other. The Senate, in the 
proposed government of the United States, are possessed 
of the legislative authority in conjunction with the House 
of Representatives. They are likewise possessed of the sole 
power of trying all impeachments, which, not being re- 
strained to the officers of the United States, may be in- 
tended to include all the officers of the several states in 
the Union. And by this clause they possess the chief of 
the executive power ; they are, in effect, to form treaties, 
which are to be the law of the land ; and they have obvi- 
ously, in effect, the appointment of all the officers of the 
United Stales. The President may nominate, but they 
have a negative u])on his nomination, till he has exhausted 
the number of those he wishes to be appointed. He will 
be obliged, finally, to acquiesce in the appointment of those 
whom the Senate shall nominate, or else no appointment 
will take place. Hence it is easy to perceive that the Presi- 
dent, in order to do any business, or to answer any purpose 
in this department of his office, and to keep himself out of 
perpetual hot water, will be under a necessity to form a 
connection with that powerful body, and be contented to 
()ut himself at the head of the leading members who com- 
pose it. I do not expect, at this day, that the outline and 
organization of this proposed government will be materially 

SwitcBm.1 NORTH CAROLINA. 117 

altered. But I cannot but be of opinion that the govern- 
ment would have been infinitely better and more secure, if 
the President had been provided with a standing council, 
composed of one member from each of the states, the dura- 
tion of whose office might have been the same as that of 
the President's office, or for any other period that might 
have been thought more proper ; for it can hardly be sup- 
posed, if two senators can be sent from each state, who are 
fit to give counsel to the President, that one such cannot 
be found in each state qualified for that purpose. Upon this 
plan, one half the expense of the Senate, as a standing 
council to the President in the recess of Congress, would 
evidently be saved ; each state would have equal weight in 
this council, as it has now in the Senate. And what ren- 
ders this plan the more eligible is, that two very important con- 
sequences would result from it, which cannot result from the 
present plan. The first is, that the whole executive de- 
partment, being separate and distinct from that of the legis- 
lative and judicial, would be amenable to the justice of the 
land : the President and his council, or either or any of 
them, might be impeached, tried, and condemned, for any 
misdemeanor in office. Whereas, on the present plan pro- 
posed, the Senate, who are to advise the President, and 
who, in effect, are possessed of the chief executive powers, 
let their conduct be what it will, are not amenable to the 
public justice of their country : if they may be impeached, 
ihere is no tribunal invested with jurisdiction to try them. 
It is^rue that the proposed Constitution provides that, when 
the President is tried, the chief justice shall preside. But 
1 take this to be very little more than a farce. What can 
the Senate try him for ? For doing that which they have 
advised him to do, and which, without their advice, he would 
not have done. Except what he may do in a military ca- 
pacity — when, I presume, he will be entitled to be tried by 
a court martial of general officers — he can do nothing in the 
executive department without the advice of the Senate, un- 
less it be to grant pardons, and adjourn the two Houses of 
Congress to some day to which they cannot agree to adjourn 
themselves — probably to some term that may be con- 
venient to the leading members of the Senate. 

I cannot conceive, therefore, that the President can evci 
he tried by the Senate with any effect, or to any purpose 


fm an J misdemeanor in his office, unless it should extend 
to high treason, or unless they should wish to fix the odium 
of any measure on him, in order to exculpate themselves ; 
the latter of which I cannot suppose will ever happen. 

Another important consequence of the plan I wish had 
taken place is that, the office of the President being thereby 
unconnected with that of the legislative, as well as the 
judicial, he would have that independence which is necessary 
to form the intended check upon the acts passed by the legis- 
lature before they obtain the sanction of laws. But, on the 
present plan, from the necessary connection of the Presi- 
dent's office with that of the Senate, I have little ground to 
hope that his firmness will long prevail against the over- 
bearing power and influence of the Senate, so far as to 
answer the purpose of any considerable check upon the acts 
they may think proper to pass in conjunction with the 
House of Representatives ; for he will soon find that, un- 
less he inclines to compound with them, they can easily 
hinder and control him in the principal articles of his office. 
But, if nothing else could be said in favor. of the plan of a 
standing council to the President, independent of the Sen* 
ate, the dividing the power of the latter would be sufficient 
to recommend it ; it being of the utmost importance to- 
wards the security of the government, and the liberties of 
the citizens under it. For I think it must be obvious to 
every unprejudiced mind, that the combining in the Senate 
the power of legislation, with a controlling share in the ap- 
pointment of all the officers of the United States, (eJcept 
those chosen by the people,) and the power of trying all 
impeachments that may be found against such officers, in- 
vests the Senate at once with such an enormity of power, 
and with such an overbearing and uncontrollable influence, 
as is incompatible with every idea of safety to the liberties 
of a free country, and is calculated to swallow up all othe* 
powers, and to render that body a despotic aristocracy. 

Mr. PORTER recommended the most serious consider- 
ation when they were about to give away power; that they 
were not only about to give away power to legislate or make 
laws of a supreme nature, and to make treaties, which might 
sacrifice the most valuable interests of the community, but 
to give a power to the general government to drag the in- 
habitants to any part of the world as long as they pleased : 


that they ought not to put it in the power ot any man, or 
any set of men, to do so; and that the representation was 
detective, being not a substantial, immediate representation. 
He observed that, as treaties were the supreme law of the 
land, the House of Representatives ought to have a vote in 
making them, as well as in passing them. 

Mr. J. M'DOWALL. Mr. Chairman : permit me, sir, 
to make a few observations, to show how improper it is to 
place so much power in so few men, without any responsi- 
bility whatever. Let us consider what number of them is 
necessary to transact the most important business. Two 
thirds of the members present, with the President, can make 
a treaty. Fourteen of them are a quorum, two thirds of 
which are ten. These ten may make treaties and alliances. 
They may involve us in any difficulties, and dispose of us in 
any manner, they please. Nay, eight is a majority of a 
quorum, and can do every thing but make treaties. How 
unsafe are we, when we have no power of bringing those to 
an account ! It is absurd to try them before their own body. 
Our lives and property are in the hands of eight or nine men. 
Will these gentlemen intrust their rights in this manner? 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman, although treaties are mere 
conventional acts between the contracting parties, yet, by 
the law of nations, they are the supreme law of the land to 
their respective citizens or subjects. All civilized nations 
have concurred in considering them as paramount to an 
ordinary act of legislation. This concurrence is founded on 
the reciprocal convenience and solid advantages arising from 
it. A due observance of treaties makes nations more friendly 
to each other, and is the only means of rendering less fre 
quent those mutual hostilities which tend to depopulate and 
min contending nations. It extends and facilitates that 
commercial intercourse, which, founded on the universal 
protection of private property, has, in a measure, made the 
world one nation. 

The power of making treaties has, in all countries and 
governments, been placed in the executive departments. 
This has not only been grounded on the necessity and reason 
arising from that degree of secrecy, design, and despatch, 
which is always necessary in negotiations between nations, 
but to prevent their being impeded, or carried into effect, 
by the violence, animosity, and heat of parties, which too 

120 DEBATES. TDavik 

often infect numerous bodies. Both of these reasons pre- 
ponderated in the foundation of this part of the system. It 
IS true, sir, that the late treaty between the United States 
and Great Britain has not, in some of the states, been held 
as the supreme law of the land. Even in this state, an act 
of Asseml)ly passed to declare its validity. But no doubt 
that treaty was the supreme law of the land without the 
sanction of the Assembly; because, by the Confederation, 
Congress had [)Ower to make treaties. It was one of those 
original rights of sovereignty which were vested in them; 
and it was not the deficiency of constitutional authority in 
Congress to make treaties that produced the necessity of a 
law to declare their validity ; but it was owing to the entire 
imbecility of the Confederation. 

On the principle of the propriety of vesting this power in 
the executive department, it would st»em that the whole 
power of making treaties ought to be left to the President, 
who, being: elected by the people of the United States at 
large, will have their general interest at heart. But that 
jealousy of executive power which has shown itself so 
strongly in all the American governments, would not admit 
this improvement. Interest, sir, has a most powerful influ- 
ence over the human mind, and is the basis on which all the 
transactions of mankind are built. It was mentioned before 
that the extreme jealousy of the little states, and between 
the commercial states and the non-importing states, pro- 
duced the necessity of giving an equality of suffrage to the 
Senate. The same causes made it indispensable to give to 
the senators, as representatives of states, the power of 
making, or rather ratifying, treaties. Although it militates 
against every idea of just proportion that the little state of 
Rhode Island should have the same suffrage with Virginia, 
or the great commonwealth of Massachusetts, yet the small 
states would not consent to confederate without an equal 
voice in the formation of treaties. Without the equality, 
they apprehended that their interest would be neglected or 
sacrificed in negotiations. This difficulty could not be got 
over. It arose from the unalterable nature of things. Every- 
man was convinced of the inflexibility of the little states in 
this point. It therefore became necessary to give them an 
absolute equality in making treaties. 

The learned gentleman on my right, (Mr. Spencer,) atte*- 

Datie.] north CAROUNA. 121 

saying that this was an enormous power, and that blending 
♦he different branches of government was dangerous, said, 
that such accumulated powers were inadmissible, and con- 
rrarj to all the maxims of writers. It is true, the great 
Montesquieu, and several other writers, have laid it down as 
a maxim not to be departed from, that the legislative, exec- 
utive, and judicial powers should be separate and distinct. 
But the idea that these gentlemen had in view has been 
misconceived or misrepresented. An absolute and complete 
separation is not meant by them. It is impossible to form a 
government upon these principles. Those states who had 
rmade an absolute separation of these three powers their 
leading principle, have been obliged to depart from it. It is 
principle, in fact, which is not to be found in any of the 
tate governments. In the government of New York, the 
xecutive and judiciary have a negative similar to that of the 
resident of the United States. This is a junction of all 
the three powers, and has been attended with the most 
•nappy effects. In this state, and most of the others, the 
'Executive and judicial powers are dependent on the legis- 
l.ature. Has not the legislature of this state the power of 
appointing the judges ? Is it not in their power also to fix 
iheir compensation ? What independence can there be in 
persons who are obliged to be obsequious and cringing for 
their office and salary ? Are not our judges dependent on 
the legislature for every morsel they eat? It is not difficult 
to discern what effect this may have on human nature. The 
meaning of this maxim I take to be this — that the whole 
leo:islative, executive, and judicial |X)wers should not be exclu- 
sively blended in any one particular instance. The Senate 
try impeachments. This is their only judicial cognizance. 
As to the ordinary objects of a judiciary — such as the decis- 
ion of controversies, the trial of criminals, &c. — the judiciary 
is perfectly separate and distinct from the legislative and ex- 
ecutive branches. The House of Lords, in England, have 
great judicial powers ; yet this is not considered as a blemish 
in their constitution. Why ? Because they have not the 
whole leo:islative power. Montesquieu, at the same time 
that he laid down this maxim, was writing in praise of the 
British government. At the very time he recommended this 
distinction of powers, he passed the highest eulogium on a 
constitution therein they were all partially blended. So 

VOL. IV. 16 11 

122 DEBATES. [Datik. 

that the meaning of the maxim, as laid d%iwn bj him and 
other writersi must be, that these three branches mnst 
not be entirely blended in one body. And this system 
before you comes up to the maxim more completely than 
the favorite government of Montesquieu. The gentleman 
from Anson has said that the Senate destroys the inde- 
pendence of the President, because they must confirm the 
nomination of officers. The necessity of their interfering in 
the appointment of officers resulted from the same reason 
which produced the equality of suffi-^ge. In other countries, 
the executive or chief magistrate, alone, nominates and 
appoints officers. The small states would not agree that 
the House of Representatives should have a voice in the 
appointment to offices ; and the extreme jealousy of all the 
states would not give it to the President alone. In my 
opinion, it is more proper as it is than it would be in either 
of those cases. The interest of each state will be equally 
attended to in appointments, and the choice will be more 
judicious by the junction of the Senate to the President. 
Except in the appointments of officers, and making of trea- 
ties, he is not joined with them in any instance. He is per- 
fectly independent of them in his election. It is impossible 
for human ingenuity to devise any mode of election better 
calculated to exclude undue influence. He is chosen by the 
electors appointed by the people. He is elected on the 
same day in every state, so that there can he no possible com- 
bination between the electors. The affections of the peo- 
ple can be the only influence to procure his election. If he 
makes a judicious nomination, is it to be presumed that the 
Senate will not concur in it ? Is it to be supposed' the legis- 
latures will choose the most depraved men in the states to 
represent them in Congress ? Should he nominate unworthy 
characters, can it be reasonably concluded that they will 
confirm it ? He then says that the senators will have influ- 
ence to get themselves reelected; nay, that they will be 
perpetually elected. 

I have very little apprehension on this ground. I take it 
for granted that the* man who is once a senator^ will very 
probably be out for the next six years. Legislative influ- 
ence changes. Other -persons rise, who have particular con- 
nections to advance them to office. If the senators stay six 
years out of the state governments, their influence wUl be 

Datie.] north CAROLINA. 123 

^[really diiuiniahed. It will be impossible for the most mflu- 
ential character to get himself reelected after being out of 
the country so long. There will be an entire change in si> 
years. Such futile objections, I fear, proceed from an aver 
sion to any general system. The same learned gentleman 
says that it would be better, were a council, consisting of 
one from every state, substituted to the Senate. Another 
gentleman has objected to the small ness of this number. 
This shows the impossibility of satisfying all men's minds. 
I beg this committee to place these two objections together, 
and see their glaring inconsistency. If there were thirteen 
counsellors, in the manner he proposes, it would destroy the 
responsibility of the President. He must have acted also 
with a majority of them. A majority of them is seven, 
which would be a quorum. A majority of these would be 
four, and every act to which the concurrence of the Senate 
and the President is necessary could be decided by these 
four. Nay, less than a majority — even one — would suffice 
to enable them to do the most important acts. This, sir, 
would be the effect of this council. The dearest interests of 
the community would be trusted to two men. Had this been 
the case, the loudest clamors would have been raised, with 
justice, against the Constitution, and these gentlemen would 
have loaded their own proposition with the most virulent 

On a due consideration of this clause, it appears that this 
power could not have been lodged as safely any where else 
as where it is. The honorable gentleman (Mr. M'Dowall) 
has spoken of a consolidation in this governmert. That is 
a very strange inconsistency, when he points out, at the same 
time, the necessity of lodging the power of making treaties 
with the representatives, where the idea of a consolidation 
can alone exist ; and when he objects to placing it in the 
Senate, where the federal principle is completely preserved. 
As the Senate represents the sovereignty of the states, 
whatever might affect the states in their political capacity 
ought to be left to them. This is the certain means of pre- 
venting a consolidation. How extremely absurd is it to call 
that disposition of power a consolidation of the states, which 
must to all eternity prevent it ! I have only to add the 
principle upon which the General Convention went — that 
the power of making treaties could nowhere be so safely 

i24 DEBATES. [Spencbr. 

lodged as in the President and Senate ; and the extreme 
jealousy subsisting between some of the states would not 
admit of it elsewhere. If any man will examine the opera- 
tion of that jealousy, in his own breast, as a citizen of North 
Carolina, he will soon feel the inflexibility that results from 
it, and perhaps be induced to acknowledge the propriety 
of this arrangement. 

Mr. M'DOWALL declared, that he was of the same opin- 
ion as before, and that he believed the observations which 
the gentleman had made, on the apparent inconsisle;icy of 
his remarks, would have very little weight with the com- 
mittee ; that giving such extensive |)owers to so few men in 
the Senate was extremely dangerous ; and that he was not 
the more reconciled to it from its being brought about by 
the inflexibility of the small, pitiful states to the north. He 
supposed that eight members in the Senate from those states, 
with the President, might do the most important acts. 

Mr. SPAIGHT. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman objects 
to the smallncss of the number, and to their want of re- 
$[Minsibility. He argues as if the senators were never to at- 
tend, and as if the northern senators were to attend more 
regularly than those from the south. Nothing can be more 
unreasonable than to suppose that they will be absent on 
the most im|)ortant occasions. What responsibility is there 
in the present Congress that is not in the Senate? What 
responsibility is there in our state legislature ? The senators 
are as responsible as the members of our legislature. It is 
to be observed, that though the senators are not impeachable, 
yet the President is. He may be impeached and punished 
for giving his consent to a treaty, whereby the interest of 
the community is manifestly sacrificed. 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, the worthy gentleman 
from Halifax has endeavored to obviate my objections against 
the want of responsibility in the President and senators, 
and against the extent of their power. He has not removed 
my objections. It is totally out of their j)ower to show any de- 
gree of responsibility. The executive is tried by his advisers. 
The reasons I urged are so cogent and strong with me, that 
I cannot c^pprove of this clause. I can see nothing of any 
weight against them. [Here Mr. Spencer spoke so low that 
he could not distinctly be heard.] I would not give the 
President and senators power tc make treaties, because it 

Ihedell.1 north CAROLINA. 126 

destrojrs their responsibility. If a bad treaty be made, and 
he impeached for it, the Senate will not pronounce sentence 
against him, because they advised him to make it. If they 
had legislative power only, it would be unexceptionable ; but 
^vhen they have the appointment of officers, and such ex- 
tensive executive powers, it gives them such weight as is 
inadmissible. Notwithstanding what gentlemen have said in 
defence of the clause, the influence of the Senate still remains 
equally formidable to me. The President can do nothing 
KJinless they concur vvith him. In order to obtain their con- 
^ziunrence, he will compromise with them. Had there been 
uch a council as I mentioned, to advise him, the Senate would 
othave had such dangerous influence, and the responsibility 
f the President would have been secured. This seems ob- 
iously clear to be the case. 
Mr. PORTER. Mr. Chairman, I only rise to make one 
observation on what the gentleman has said. He told us, 
nhat if the Senate were not amenable, the President was. 
I beg leave to ask the gentleman if it be not inconsistent 
that they should punish the President, whom they advised 
themselves to do what he is impe-iched for. My objection 
still remains. I cannot find it in the least obviated. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH desired to be informed whether 
treaties were not to be submitted to the Parliament in Great 
Britain before they iwere valid. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, the objections to this 
clause deserve great consideration. I believe it will be easy 
to obviate the objections against it, and that it will be found 
to have been necessary, for the reasons stated by the gen- 
tleman from Halifax, to vest this power in some body com- 
posed of representatives of states, where their voices should 
be equal ; for in this case the sovereignty of the states is 
particularly concerned, and the great caution of giving the 
states an equality of suffi*age in making treaties, was for 
the express purpose of taking care of that sovereignty, and 
attending to their interests, as political bodies, in foreign ne- 
gotiations. It is objected to as improper, because, if the 
President or Senate should abuse their trust, there is not 
sufficient responsibility, since he can only be tried by the 
Senate, by whose advice he acted ; and the Senate cannot 
be tried at all. I beg leave to observe that, when any man 
is impeached, it must be for an error of the heart, and not 


of the head. God forbid that a man, in any country in the 
world, should be liable to be punished for want of judgment. 
This is not the case here. As to errors of the heart, there 
is sufficient responsibility. Should these be committed, there 
is a ready way to bring him to punishment. This is a re- 
sponsibility which answers every purpose that could be de- 
sired by a people jealous of their liberty. I presume that, 
if the President, with the advice of the Senate, should make 
a treaty with a foreign power, and that treaty should be 
deemed unwise, or against the interest of the country, yet 
if nothing could be objected against it but the difference of 
opinion between them and their constituents, they could not 
justly l)e obnoxious to punishment. If they were punishable 
for exercising their own judgment, and not that of their 
constituents, no man who regarded his reputation would 
accept the office either of a senator or President. What- 
ever mistake a man may make, he ought not to he juin- 
ished for it, nor his posterity rendered infamous. But if a 
man he a villain, and wilfully abuse his trust, he is to be held 
up as a public offender, and ignominiously punished. A pub- 
lic officer ought not to act from a principle of fear. Were 
he punishable for want of judgment, he would be contin- 
ually in dread; but when he knows that nothing but real 
guilt can disgrace him, he maj' do his duty firmly, if he be 
an hon(»st man ; and if he be not, a just fear of disgrace 
may, perhaps, as to the public, have nearly the effect of an 
intrinsic principle of virtue. According to these principles, 
I suppose the only instances, in which the President would 
be liable to impeachment, would be where he had received 
a bribe, or had acted from some corrupt motive or other. If 
the President had received a bribe, without the privity or 
knowledge of the Senate, from a foreign power, and, under 
the influence of that bribe, had address enough with the 
Senate, by artifices and misrepresentations, to seduce their 
consent to a pernicious treaty, — if it appeared afterwards 
that this was the case, would not that Senate be as compe- 
tent to try him as any other persons whatsoever? Would 
they not exclaim against his villany ? Would they not feel 
a particular resentment against him, for being made the 
instrument of his treacherous pur[X)ses? In this situation, if 
any ohjection could be made against the Senate as a proper 
tribunal, it misiht more |)roperly be made by the President 
himself, lest their resentment should operate too strongly, 


rather than by the public, on the ground of a supposed par- 
tiality. Tlio President must certainly be punishable for 
giving false information to the Senate. He is to regulate 
all intercourse with foreign powers, and it is his duty to im- 
part to the Senate every material intelligence he receives. If 
it should appear that he has not given them full informati6n, 
1)ut has conceajed important intelligence which he ought to 
liave communicated, and by that means induced them to 
«nter into measures injurious to their country, and which 
^hey would not have consented to had the true state of things 
Jyeen disclosed to them, — in this case, I ask whether, upon 
^n impeachment for a misdemeanor upon such an account, 
^he Senate would probably favor him. With respect to the 
impeachiibility of the Senate, that is a matter of doubt. 
There have b<»en no instances of impeachment for legis- 
lative misdemeanors ; and we shall find, upon examination, 
that the inconveniences resulting from such impeachments 
would more than preponderate the advantages. There is 
no greater, honor in the world than being the representative 
of a free people. There is no trust on which the happiness 
of the people has a greater dependence. Yet who ever 
heard of impeaching a member of the legislature for any 
legislative misconduct ? It would be a great check on the 
public business, if a member of the Assembly was liable to 
punishment for his conduct as such. Unfortunately, it is 
the case, not only in other countries, but even in this, that 
division and differences in opinion will continually arise. On 
many questions there will be two or more parties. These 
often judge with little charity of each other, and attribute 
every opposition to their own system to an ill motive. We 
know this very well from experience ; but> in my opinion, 
this constant suspicion is frequently unjust. I believe, in 
general, both parties really think themselves right, and that 
the majority of each commonly act with equal innocence of 
intention. But, with the usual want of charity in these cases, 
how dangerous would it be to make a member of the legis- 
lature liable to im[3eachment ! A mere difference of opinion 
might be interpreted, bv the malignity of party, into a de- 
liberate, wicked action. 

It therefore appears to me at least very doubtful whether 
it would be proper to render the Senate impeachable at all • 
especially as, in the branches of executive government, where 

128 DEBATES. [Iebdell. 

their concurrence is required, the President is the primary 
agent, and plainly responsible, and they, in fact, are but a 
council to validate proper, or restrain impropc^r, conduct in 
him ; but if a senator is impeachable, it could only be for 
corruption, or some other wicked motive, in which case, 
surely those senators who had acted from upright motives 
would be competent to try him. Suppose there had b<*en 
such a council as was pro|)osed, consisting of thirteen, one 
from each state, to assist the President in making treaties, 
&c. ; more general alarm would have l)een excited, and 
stronger opposition made to this Constitution, than even at 
present. The power of the President would have appeared 
more formidable, and the states would have lost one half of 
their security ; sinc^e, instead of two representatives, which 
each has now for those purposes, they would have had but 
one. A gentleman from New Hanover has asked whether 
it is not the practice, in Great Britain, to submit treaties to 
Parliament, before they are esteemed as valid. The king 
has the sole authority, by the laws of that country, to make 
treaties. After treaties are made, they are frequently dis- 
cussed in the two houses, where, of late years, the most im- 
prtant measures of government have been narrowly exam- 
ined. Ii is usual to move for an address of approbation ; 
and such has been the complaisance of Parliament for a long 
time, that this seldom hath been withheld. Sometimes they 
pass an act in conformity to the treaty made ; but this, I 
believe, is not for the mere purpose of confirmation, but to 
make alterations in a particular system, which the change of 
circumstances requires. The constitutional power of making 
treaties is vested in the crown ; and the power with whom a 
treaty is made considers it as binding, without any act of 
Parliament, unless an alteration by such is provided for in the 
treaty itself, which I believe is sometimes the case. When 
the treaty of peace was made in 1763, it contained stipula- 
tions for the surrender of some islands to the French. The 
islands were given up, I believe, without any act of Parlia- 
ment. The j)ower of makin^^ treaties is very im|X)rtant, and 
must l>e vest(*d somewhere, in order to counteract the dan 
gerous designs of other countries, and to be able to terminate 
a war when it is begun. Were it know^n that our govern- 
ment w^as weak, two or more European powers might com- 
bine against us. Would it not be politic to have some power 

Iebdell.] north CAROLINA. 129 

in this country, to obviate this danger by a treaty? If this 
power was injudiciously limited, the nations where the power 
-was possessed without restriction would have greatly the 
advantage of us in negotiation ; and every one must know, 
recording to modern policy, of what moment an advantage 
in negotiation is. The honorable member from Anson said 
xhat the accumulation of all the different branches of power 
in the Senate would be dangerous. The experience of other 
<:ountries shows that this fear is without foundation. What 
is the Senate of Great Britain opposed to the House of Com- 
mons, although it be composed of an hereditary nobility, of 
vast fortunes, and entirely independent of the people r 
Their weight is far inferior to that of the Commons. Here 
is a strong instance of the accumulation of powers of the dif 
ferent branches of government without producing any incon- 
venience. That Senate, sir, is a separate branch of the 
legislature, is the great constitutional council of the crown, 
and decides on lives and fortunes in impeachments, besides 
being the ultimate tribunal for trying controversies respecting 
private rights. Would it not appear that all these things 
should render them more formidable than the other house ? 
Yet the Commons have generally been able to carry every 
thing before them. The circumstance or tneir representing 
the great body of the people, alone gives them great weight. 
This weio;ht has great authority added to it, by their possess- 
ing the right (a right given to the people's representatives in 
Congress) of exclusively originating money bills. The au- 
thority over money will do every thing. A government can- 
not be supported without money. Our representatives may 
at ^ny time compel the Senate to agree to a reasonable 
measure, by withholding supplies till the measure is consented 
to. There was a o;reat debate, in the Convention, whether 
the Senate should have an equal power of originating money 
bills. It was strongly insisted, by some, that they should ; 
but at length a majority thought it unadvlsable, and the 
clause was passed as it now stands. I have reason to be- 
lieve that our representatives had a great*share in establish- 
ing this excellent regulation, and in my opinion they deserve 
the public thanks for it. It has been objected that this 
power must necessarily injure the people, inasmuch as a bare 
majority of the Senate might alone be assembled, and eight 
would be sufficient for a decision. This is on a suppositioi 

VOL. IV. 17 

13U DEBATES. [Isedell 

that many of the senators would neglect attending. It is to 
be hoped that the gentlemen who will be honored with seats 
in Congress will faithfully execute their trust, as well in at- 
tending as in every other part of their duty. An objection 
of this sort will go against all government whatever. Pos- 
sible abuse, and neglect of attendance, are objections which 
may be urged against any government which the wisdom of 
man is able to construct. When it is known of how much 
importance attendance is, no senator would dare to incur the 
universal resentment of his fellow-citizens by grossly absent- 
ing himself from his duty. Do gentlemen mean that it ought 
to have been provided, by the Constitution, that the whole 
l)ody should attend before particular business was done ? 
Then it would be in the power of a few men, by neglecting 
to attend, to obstruct the public business, and possibly bring 
on the destruction of their country. If this power be im- 
properly vested, it is incumbent on gentlemen to tell us in 
what body it could be more safely and properly lodged. 

I believe, on a serious consideration, it will be found that 
it was necessary, for the reasons mentioned by the gentle- 
man from Halifax, to vest the power in the Senate, or in 
some other body representing equally the sovereignty of the 
states, and that the power, as given in the Constitution, is 
not likely to be attended with the evils which some gentle- 
men apprehend. The only real security of liberty, in any 
country, is the jealousy and circumspection of the people 
themselves. Let them be watchful over their rulers. Should 
they find a combination against their liberties, and all other 
methods a[)pear insufficient to preserve them, they have, 
thank God, an ultimate remedy. That power which crea- 
ted the government can destroy it. Should the government, 
on trial, be found to want amendments, those amendments 
can be made in a regular method, in a mode prescribed by 
the Constitution itself. Massachusetts, South Carolina, New 
Hampshire, and Virginia, have all proposed amendments; 
but they all concurred in the necessity of an immediate 
adoption. A constitutional mode of altering the Constitu- 
tion itself is, perhaps, what has never been known among 
mankind before. We have this security, in addition to the 
natural watchfulness of the people, which I hope will nevei 
be found wanting The objections I have answered de- 
served all possible attention ; and for my part, I shall always 

Spencee.] north CAROLINA. 13 J 

r<;spect that jealousy which arises from the love of public 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, I think that no argu- 
ment can be used to show that this power is proper. If the 
>vhoie legislative body — if the House of Representatives do 
mot interi'ere in making treaties, I think they ought at least 
xo have the sanction of the whole Senate. The worthy gen- 
Tleman last up has mentioned two cases wherein he supposes 
that impeachments will be fairly tried by the senators. He 
supposes a case where the President had been guilty of cor- 
ruption, and by that means had brought over and got the 
sanction of two thirds of the senators; and that, if it should 
be afterwards found that he brought them over by artifices, 
they would be a proper body to try him. As they will be 
ready to throw the odium off their own shoulders on him, 
they may pronounce sentence against him. He mentions 
another case, where, if a majority was obtained by bribing 
some of the senators, those who were innocent might try 
those who were guilty. I think that these cases will happen 
but rarely in comparison to other cases, where the senators 
may advise the President to deviate from his duty, and 
where a majority of them may be guilty. And should they 
be tried by their own body when thus guilty, does not ev- 
er) body see the impropriety of it? Ii is universally dis- 
graceful, odious, and contemptible, to have a trial where the 
judges are accessory to the misdemeanor of the accused. 
Whether the accusation against him be true or not, if afraid 
for themselves, they will endeavor to throw the odium upon 
him. There is an extreme difference between the case of 
trying this officer and that of trying their own members* 
They are so different, that I consider they will always acquit 
their own members ; and if they condemn the President, it 
will l>e to exonerate themselves. It appears to me that the 
powers are too extensive, and not sufficiently guarded. I 
do not wish that an aristocracy should be instituted. An 
aristocracy may arise out of this government, though the 
members l>e not hereditary. I would therefore wish that 
every guard should be placed, in order to prevent it. I wish 
gentlemen would reflect that the powers of the Senate are 
so great in their legislative and judicial capacities, that, when 
added to their executive powers, particularly th(Mr interfe- 
rence in the appointment of all officers in the continent, they 


will render their power so enormous as to enable them to 
destroy our rights and privileges. This, sir, ought to be 
strictly guarded against. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, the honorable gentle- 
man must be mistaken. He suggests that an aristocracy 
will arise out of this government. Is there any thing like 
an aristocracy in this government ? This insinuation is un- 
candidly calculated to alarm and catch prejudices. In this 
government there is not the least symptom of an aristocracy, 
which is, where the government is in a select body of men 
entirely independent of the people ; as, for instance, an he- 
'reditary nobility, or a senate for life, filling up vacancies h\ 
their own authority. Will any memlier of this government 
hold his station by any such tenure? Will not all authority 
flow, in every instance, directly or indirectly from the peo- 
ple ? It is contended, by that gentleman, that the addition 
of the power of making treaties to their other powers, will 
make the Senate dangerous ; that they would be even dan- 
gerous to the representatives of the people. The gentleman 
has not proved this in theory. Whence will he adduce an 
example to prove it ? What passes in England directly dis- 
proves his assertion. In that country, the representatives of 
the people are chosen under undue influence ; frequently by 
direct bribery and corruption. They are elected for seven 
years, and many of the members hold offices under the 
crown — some during pleasure, others for life. They are also 
not a genuine representation of the people, but, from a 
change of circumstances, a mere shadow of it. Yet, undei 
these disadvantages, they having the sole power of origina 
ting money bills, it has been found that the power of the 
king and lords is much less considerable than theirs. The 
high prerogatives of the king, and the great power and 
wealth of the lords, have been more than once mentioned in 
the course of the debates. If, under such circumstances, 
such representatives, — mere shadows of representatives. — by 
having the power of the purse, and the sacred name of the 
people, to rely upon, are an overmatch for the king and lords, 
who have such great hereditary qualifications, we may safely 
conclude that our own representatives, who will be a genu- 
ine representation of the people, and having equally the right 
of originating money bills, will, at least, be a match for the 
Senate, possessing qualifications so inferior to those of the 
House of Lords in England. 


It seems to be forgottea that the Senate is placed therts 
for a very valuable purpose — as a guard against any attempt 
of coasolidation. The members of the Convention were as 
nmch averse to consolidation as any gentleman on this floor; 
but without this institution, (I mean the Senate, where the 
suffrages of the states are equal,) the danger would be greater. 
There ought to be some power given to the Senate to coua- 
teract the influence of the people by their bienniail represen- 
tation in the other house, in order to preserve completely the 
sovereignty of the states. If the people, through the me- 
dium of their representatives, possessed a share in making 
t:reaties and appointing ofiicers, would there not be a greater 
l3alance of power in the House of Representatives than such 
sk government ought to possess? It is true that it would be 
'Very improper if the Senate had authority to prevent the 
fiouse of Representatives from protecting the people. It 
'xvould be equally so if the House of Representatives were 
^able to prevent the Senate from protecting the sovereignty of 
xhe states. It* is probable that either house would have suf- 
ficient authority to prevent much mischief. As to the sug- 
gestion of a tendency to aristocracy, it is totally groundless. 
1 disdain every principle of aristocracy. There is not. a 
shadow of an aristocratical principle in this government. 
The President is only chosen for four years — liable to be 
impeached — and dependent on the people at large for his 
reelection. Can this mode of ap[X)intment be said to have 
an aristocratical principle in it ? The Senate is chosen by 
the legislatures. Let us consider the example of other 
states, with respect to the construction of their Senate. In 
this point, most of them difler; though they almost all 
concur in this, that the term of election for senators is longer 
than that for representatives. The reason of this is, to in- 
troduce stability into the laws, and to prevent that muta- 
bility which would result from annual elections of both 
branches. In New York, they are chosen for three years ; 
ia Virginia, they are chosen for four years ; and in Maryland, 
they are chosen for five years. In this Constitution, although 
they are chosen for six years, one third go out every second 
vear, (a method pursued in some of the state constitutions,) 
which at the same time secures stability to the laws, and a 
due dependence on the state h^gislatures. Will any man 
say that there are any aristocratical principles in a body wha 


h%i DEBATES. [Blood woRTa 

have no power independent of the people, and whereof one 
third of the members are chosen, every second year, by a 
wise and select body of electors ? I hope, therefore, that 
it will not be considered that there are any aristocratical 
principles in this government, and that it will be given up as 
a point not to be contended for. The gentleman contends 
that a council ought to bo instituted in this case. One ob- 
jection ought to be compared with another. It has been ob- 
jected against the Constitution that it will be productive of 
great expense. Had there been a council, it would have 
been oljjected that it was calculated for creating new offices, 
and increasing the means of undue influence. Though he 
approves of a council, others would not. As to offices, the 
Senate has no other influence but a restraint on improper 
appointments. The President proposes such a man for such 
an office. The Senate has to consider upon it. If they 
think him improper, the President must nominate another, 
whose appointment ultimately again depends upon the Senate. 
Suppose a man nominated by the President ; with what face 
would any senator object to him without a good reason ? 
There must be some decorum in every public body. He 
would not say, " I do not choose this man, because a friend 
of mine wants the office." Were he to object to the nomi- 
nation of the President, without assigning any reason, his 
conduct would be reprobated, and still might not answer his 
purpose. Were an office to be vacant, for which a hundred 
men on the continent were equally well qualified, there 
would be a hundred chances to one whether his friend would 
be nominated to it. This, in effect, is but a restriction on 
the President. The power of the Senate would be more 
likely to be abused were it vested in a council of thirteen, of 
which there would be one from each state. One man could 
be more easily influenced than two. We have therefore a 
double security. I am firmly of opinion that, if you take 
all the powers of the President and Senate together, the 
vast influence of the representatives of the people will pre- 
ponderate against them in every case where the public good 
is really concerned. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH. Mr. Chairman, I confess I am 
sorry to take up any time. 1 beg leave to make a few ob- 
servations; for it would be an Herculean task, and dis- 
. agreeable to this committee, to mention every thing. It has 

Maclainb] north CAROLINA. l3o 

indeed been objected, aud urged, that the res|X)nsibility ot 
the Sen:ite was not sufficient to secure the states. When 
^we consider the length of the term for which they are elect- 
ed, and the extent of their powers, we must be persuaded 
that there is no real security. A gentleman has said that 
the Assembly of North Carolina are rogues. It is, then, 
probable that they may be corrupted. In this case, we have 
not a sufficient check on those gentlemen who are gone six 
years. A parallel is drawn between them and the members 
of our Assembly ; but if you reflect a moment, you will find 
that the comparison is not good. There is a responsibility 
in the members of the Assembly: at the end of a year they 
are liable to be turned out. This is not the case with 
the senators. I beg gentlemen to consider the extreme dif- 
ference between the two cases. Much is said about treaties. 
I do not dread this so much as what will arise from the Jar- 
riag interests of the Eastern, Southern, and the Middle 
States. They are different in soil, climate, customs, prod 
uce, and every thing. Regulations will lie made evidently 
to the disadvantage of some part of the community, and most 
probably to ours. I will not take up more of the time of the 
3d clause of the 2d section of the 2d article read. 
Mr. MACLAINE. It has been objected to this part, 
that the power of appointing officers was something like a 
monarchical power. Congress are not to be sitting at all 
times ; they will only sit from time to time, as the public 
business may render it necessary. Therefore the executive 
ought to make temporary appointments, as well as receive 
ambassadors and other public ministers. This power can 
be vested nowhere but in the executive, because he is per- 
petually acting for the public ; for, though the Senate is to 
advist* him in the appointment of officers, &c., yet, during 
the recess, the President must do this business, or else it will 
be neglected; and such neglect may occasion public incon- 
veniences. But there is an objection made to another part, 
that has not yet been read. His power of adjourning both 
houses, when they disagree, has been by some people con- 
strued to extend to any length of time. If gentlemen look 
at another part of the Constitution, they will find that there 
IS a (iositive injunction, that the Congress must meet at least 
onre in every year; so that he cannot, were he so inclinedt 

136 DEBATES. LSpbncbk. 

prevent their meeting within a year. One of the best pro- 
visions contained in it is, that he shall commission all officers 
of the United States, and shall take care that the laws be 
faithfully executed. If he takes care to see the laws faith- 
fully executed, it will be more than is done in any govern- 
ment on the continent ; for I will venture to say that our 
governcnent, and those of the other states, are, with re- 
spect to the execution of the laws, in many respects mere 

Rest of the article read without any observations. 

Article 3d, 1st and 2d sections, read. 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, I have objections to 
this article. I object to the exclusive jurisdiction of the 
federal court in all cases of law and equity arising under the 
Constitution and the laws of the United States, and to the 
appellate jurisdiction of controversies between the citizens 
of diflferent states, and a few other instances. To these 1 
object, because I believe they will be oppressive in their 
operation. 1 would wish that the federal court should not 
interfere, or have any thing to do with controversies to the 
decision of which the state judiciaries might be fully compe- 
tent, nor with such controversies as must carry the people a 
great way from home. With respect to the jurisdiction of 
cases arising under the Constitution, when we reflect on the 
very extensive objects of the plan of government, the manner 
in which they may arise, and the multiplicity of laws that 
may be made with respect to them, the objection against it 
will appear to be well founded. If we consider nothing but 
i\\v articles of taxation, duties, and excises, and the laws 
that might be made with respect to these, the cases will be 
almost infinite. If we consider that it is in contemplation 
ihat a stamp duty shall take place throughout the continent; 
that all contracts shall be on stamp paper; that no contracts 
Nhall be of validity but what would be thus stamped, — these 
VWHVH will be so many that the consequences would be dread- 
ful. It would be necessary to appoint judges to the federal 
Supri'mi! ('ourt, and other inferior departments, and such a 
munb(*r of inferior courts in every district and county, with 
a correspondent number of officers, that it would cost an 
inunense expense without any apparent necessity, which 
must operate to the distress of the inhabitants. There will 
Us without ^ny manner of doubt, clashings and animosities 


^tween the jurisdiction of the federal courts afid of the state 
c^ourts, so that they will keep the country in hot water* it 
bas been said that the impropriety of this was mentioned by 
s^me in the Convention. I cannot see the reasons of giving 
C lie federal courts jurisdiction in these cases ; but I am sure 
i ^ w^ill occasion great expense unnecessarily. The state ju- 
iciaries will have very little to do. It will be almost useless 
keep them up. As all officers are to take an oath to 
pport the general government, it will carry every thing 
fcefore it. This will produce that consolidation through the 
United States which is apprehended. I am sure that I do 
xiot see that it is possible to avoid it. I can see no power 
mhat can keep up the little remains of the power of the states. 
^ur rights are not guarded. There is no declaration of 
vights, to secure to every member of the society those un- 
oalienable rights which ought not to be given up to any gov- 
ernment. Such a bill of rights would be a check upon men 
in power. Instead of such a bill of rights, this Constitu- 
tion has a clause which may warrant encroachments on the 
power of the respective state legislatures. I know it is said 
that what is not given up to the United States will be re- 
tained by the individual states. I know it ought to be so, 
and should be so understood ; but, sir, it is not declared to 
be so. In the Confederation it is expressjy declared that all 
rights and powers, of any kind whatever, of the several 
states, which are not given up to the United States, are 
expressly and absolutely retained, to be enjoyed by the 
states. There ought to be a bill of rights, in order that 
those in power may not step over the boundary between 
the powers of government and the rights of the people, 
which they may do when there is nothing to prevent them. 
They may do so without a bill of rights; notice will not be 
readily taken of the encroachments of rulers, and they may 
go a great length before the people are alarmed. Oppression 
may therefore take place by degrees; but if there were ex- 
press terms and bounds laid down, when these were passed 
by, the people would take notice of them, and oppressions 
would not be carried on to such a length. I look upon it, 
therefore, that there ought to be something to confine the 
power of this government within its proper botindaries. I 
know that seiieral writers have said that a bill of rights is 
not necessary in this country ; that some states had them 

VOL. IV. 18 

138 DEBATES. [Spencbk. 

ni»t, and that others had. To these I answer, that those 
states that have them not as bills of rights, strictly so called, 
have them in the frame of their constitution, which is nearly 
the same. 

There has been a comparison made of our situation with 
Great Britain. We have no crown, or prerogative of a king, 
like the British constitution. 1 take it, that the subject has 
been misunderstood. In Great Britain, when the king at- 
tempts to usurp the rights of the people, the declaration and 
bill of rights are a guard against him. A bill of rights 
would be necessary here to guard against our rulers. I wish 
to have a bill of rights, to secure those unalienable rights, 
which are called by some respectable writers the residuum 
of human rights, which are never to be given up. At the 
same time that it would give security to individuals, it would 
add to the general strength. It might not be so necessary 
to have a bill of rights in the government of the United 
States, if such means had not been made use of as endan- 
ger a consolidation of all the states ; but at any event, it 
would be proper to have one, because, though it might not 
be of any other service, it would at least satisfy the minds 
of the people. It would keep the states from being swal- 
lowed up by a consolidated government. For the reasons I 
before gave, I think that the jurisdiction of the federal court, 
with respect to all cases in law and equity, and the laws of 
Congress, and the appeals in all cases between citizens 
of different states, &c., is inadmissible. I do not see the 
necessity that it should be vested with the cognizance of all 
these matters. I am desirous, and have no objection to 
their having one Supreme Federal Court for general matters ; 
but if the federal courts have cognizance of those subjects 
which I mentioned, very great oppressions may arise. Noth- 
ing can be more oppressive than the cognizance with respect 
to controversies between citizens of different states. In all 
cases of appeal, those persons who are able to pay had bet- 
ter pay down in the first instance, though it be unjust, than 
be at such a dreadful expense by going such a distance to 
the Supreme Federal Court. Some of the most respectable 
states have proposed, by way of amendments, to strike out 
a great part of these two clauses. If they be admitted as 
they are, it will render the country entirely unhappy. On 
the contrary, I see no inconvenience from reducing the 


power as has been proposed. I am of opinion that it is in- 

c^onsistent with the happiness of the people to admit these 

^wo clauses. The state courts are sufficient to decide the 

<^mmon controversies of the people, without distressing 

them hy carrying them to such far-distant tribunals. If I 

did not consider these two clauses to be dangerous, I should 

not object to them. I mean not to object to any thing that 

is not absolutely necessary. I wish to be candid, and not 

be prejudiced or warped. 

Mr. SPAIGHT. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman insinu- 
ates that differences existed in the Federal Convention re- 
specting the clauses which he objects to. Whoever told 
him so was wrong; for I declare that, in that Convention, 
the unanimous desire of all was to keep separate and distinct 
the objects of the jurisdiction of the federal from that of the 
state judiciary. They wished to separate them as judi- 
ciously as possible, and to consult the ease and convenience 
of the people. The gentleman objects to the cognizance 
of all cases in law and equity arising under the Constitution 
and the laws of the United States. This objection is very 
astonishing. When any government is established, it ought 
to have power to enforce its laws, or else it might as well 
have no power. What but that is the use of a judiciary ? 
The gentleman, from his profession, must know that no 
government can exist without a judiciary to enforce its laws, 
by distinguishing the disobedient from the rest of the people, 
and imposing sanctions for securing the execution of the 
laws. As to the inconvenience of distant attendance. Con- 
gress has power of establishing inferior tribunals in each 
state, so as to accommodate every citizen. As Congress 
have it in their power, will they not do it? Are we to elect 
men who will wantonly and unnecessarily betray us ? 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, I hoped that some 
gentleman more capable than myself would have obviated 
the objections to this part. The objections offered by the 
gentleman appear to me totally without foundation. He 
told us that these clauses tended to a consolidation of the 
states. I cannot see how the states are to be consolidated 
by establishing these two clauses. He enumerated a num- 
ber of cases which would be involved within the cognizance of 
the federal courts ; customs, excises, duties, stamp duties — 
a stamp on every article, on every contract — in order to bring 

140 DEBATES [Maclaim. 

all persons into the federal court , and said that there would 
be necessarily courts in every district and county, which 
would be attended with enormous and needless expense, for 
that the state courts could do every thing. He went on fur- 
ther, and said that there would be a necessity of having 
sheriffs and other officers in these inferior departments, A 
wonderful picture indeed, drawn up in a wonderful manner ? 
I will venture to say that the gentleman's suggestions are 
not warranted by any reasonable construction of the Con- 
stitution. The laws can, in general, be executed by the offi- 
cers of the states. State courts and state officers will, for 
the most part, probably answer the purpose of Congress as 
well as any other. But the gentleman says that the state 
courts will be swallowed up by the federal courts. This is 
only a general assertion, unsupported by any probable rea- 
sons or arguments. The objects of each are separate and 
distinct. I suppose that whatever courts there may be, they 
will be established according to the convenience of the peo- 
ple. This we must suppose from the mode of electing and 
appointmg the members of the government. State officers 
will as much as possible be employed, for one very consider- 
able reason — I mean, to lessen the expense. But he 
imagines that the oath to be taken by officers will tend to 
the subversion of our state governments and of our liberty. 
Can any government exist without fidelity in its officers ? 
Ought not the officers of every government to give some 
security for the faithful discharge of their trust ? The offi- 
cers are only to be sworn to support the Constitution, and 
therefore will only be bound by their oath so far as it shall 
be strictly pursued. No officer will \ye bound by his oath to 
. support any act that would violate the principles of the Con- 

The gentleman has wandered out of his way to tell us — 
what has so often been said out of doors — that there is no 
declaration of rights; that consequently all our rights are 
taken away. It would be very extraordinary to have a bill 
of rights, because the powers of Congress are expressly de- 
fined ; and the very definition of them is as valid and effica- 
cious a check as a bill of rights could be, without the danger- 
ous implication of a bill of rights. The powers of Congress 
are limited and enumerated. We say we have given them 
those powers, but we do not say we have given them more 


'Ve retain all those rights which we have not given away to 
• he general government. The gentleman is a professional 
Kman. If a gentleman had made his last will and testament, 
^and devised or bequeathed to a particular person the sixth 
;gpart of his property, or any particular specific legacy, could 
it be said that that person should have the whole estate ? If 
^hey can assume powers not enumerated, there was no oc- 
<!asion for enumerating any powers. The gentleman is 
learned. Without recurring to his learning, he may only 
appeal to his common sense ; it will inform hinx that, if we 
- had all power before, and give away but a part, we still re- 
tain the rest. It is as plain a thing as possibly can be, that 
Congress can have no power but what we expressly give 
them. There is an express clause which, however disin- 
genuously it has been perverted from its true meaning, clearly 
demonstrates that they are confined to those powers which 
are given them. This clause enables them to " make all laws 
which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execu- 
tion the foregoin^: powers, and all other powers vested by 
this Constitution in the government of the United States, or 
any department or officers thereof." This clause specifies 
that they shall make laws to carry into execution all the 
poioers vested by this Constitution ; consequently, they can 
make no laws to execute any other power. This clause 
gives no new power, but declares that those already given 
are to be executed by proper laws. I hope this will satisfy 
gentlemen. , 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, the learned member 
from Anson says that the federal courts have exclusive juris- 
diction of all cases in law and equity arising under the Con- 
stitution and laws of the United States. The opinion which 
I have always entertained is, that they will, in these cases, 
as well as in several others, have concurrent jurisdiction with 
the state courts, and not exclusive jurisdiction. I see nothing 
in this Constitution which hinders a man from bringing suit 
wherever he thinks he can have justice done him. The juris- 
diction ot these courts is established for some purposes with 
which the state courts have nothing to do, and the Constitu- 
tion takes no power from the state courts which they now 
have. They will have the same business which they have 
now, and if so, they will have enough to employ their time. 
We know /hat the gentlemen who preside in our superior 

142 DEBATES. [Bloouwobtb. 

courts have more business than they can determine. Their 
complicated jurisdiction, and the great extent of country, 
occasions them a vast deal of business. The addition of the 
business of the United States would be no manner of advan- 
tage to them. It is obvious to every one that there ought to 
be one Supreme Court for national purposes. But the gen- 
tleman says that a bill of rights was necessary. It appears 
to me, sir, that it would have been the highest absurdity to 
undertake to define what rights the people of the United 
States were entitled to ; for that would he as much as to say 
they were entitled to nothing else. A bill of rights may be 
necessary in a monarchical government, whose powers are 
undefined. Were we in the situation of a monarchical coun- 
try ? No, sir. Every right could not be enumerated, and 
the omitted rights would be sacrificed, if security arose from 
an enumeration. The Congress cannot assume any other 
powers than those expressly given them, without a palpable 
violation of the Constitution. Such objections as this, I hope, 
will have no effect on the minds of any members in this 
house. When gentlemen object, generally, that it tends to 
consolidate the states and destroy their state judiciaries, they 
ought to be explicit, and explain their meaning. They make 
use of contradictory arguments. The Senate represents the 
states, and can alone prevent this dreaded consolidation ; yet 
the powers of the Senate are objected to. The rights of the 
people, in my opinion, cannot be affected by the federal 
courts. I«do not know how inferior courts will be regulated. 
Some suppose the state courts will have this business. 
Others have imagined that the continent would be divided 
into a nimiber of districts, where courts would be held so as 
to suit the convenience of the people. Whether this or some 
other mode will be ap|)ointed by Congress, I know not ; but 
this I am sure of, that the state judiciari(\s are not divested 
of their present judicial cognizance, and that we have every 
security that our ease and convenience will be consulted. 
Unless Congress had this power, their laws could not be ear- 
ned into execution. 

Mr. BLOOD WORTH. Mr. Chairman, the worthy gen- 
tleman u|)last has given me information on the subject which 
I had never heard before. Henring so many opinions, I did 
not know which was right. The honorable gentleman has 
said that the state courts and the courts of the United States 


^would have concurrent jurisdiction. 1 beg the committee to 
Teflect what would be the consequence of such measures 
It has ever been considered that the trial by jury was one 
of the greatest rights of the people. I ask whether, if such 
causes go into the federal court, the trial by jury is not cut 
off, and whether there is any security that we shall have 
justice done us. I ask if there be any security that we shall 
have juries in civil causes. In criminal cases there are to 
be juries, but there is no provision made for having civil 
causes tried by jury. This concurrent jurisdiction is in- 
consistent with the security of that great right. If it be 
not, I would wish to hear how it is secured. I have listened 
with attention to what the learned gentlemen have said, 
and have endeavored to see whether their arguments had 
any weight ; but I found none in them. Many words have 
been spoken, and long time taken up; but with me they 
have gone in at one ear, and out at the other. It would 
give me much pleasure to hear that the trial by jury was 

Mr. J. M'DOWALL. Mr. Chairman, the objections to 
this part of the Constitution have not been answered to my 
satisfaction yet. We know that the trial by a jury of the 
vicinage is one of the greatest securities for property. If 
causes are to be decided at such a great distance, the poor 
will be oppressed ; in land affairs, particularly, the wealthy 
suitor will prevail. A poor man, who has a just claim on a 
piece of land, has not substance to stand it. Can it be 
Supposed that any man, of common circumstances, can stand 
the expense and trouble of going from Georgia to Philadel- 
phia, there to have a suit tried ? And can it be justly de- 
termined without the benefit of a trial by jury ? These arc 
things which have justly alarmed the people. What mado 
the people revolt from Great Britain ? The trial by jury, 
that great safeguard of liberty, was taken away, and a stamp 
duty was laid upon them. This alarmed them, and led them 
to fear that greater oppressions would take place. We then 
resisted. It involved us in a war, and caused us to relin- 
quish a government which made us happy in every thing 
else. The war was very bloody, but we got our independ- 
ence. We are now giving away our dear-bought rights. 
We ought to consider what we are about to do before we 

144 DEBATES. [Ibkoeli.. 

Mr. SPAIGHT. Mr. Chairman, the trial by jury was 
not forgotten in the Convention ; the subject took up a con- 
siderable time to investigate it. It w3ls impossible to make 
any one uniform regulation for all the states, or that would 
include all cases where it would be necessary. It was im- 
possible, by one expression, to embrace the whole. There 
are a number of equity and maritime cases, in some of the 
states, in which jury trials are not used. Had the Conven- 
tion said that all causes should be tried by a jury, equity 
and maritime oases would have been included. It was 
therefore left to the legislature to say in what cases it should 
be used ; and as the trial by jury is in full force in the state 
courts, we have the fullest security. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I have waited a con 
siderable time, in hopes that some other gentleman would 
fully discuss this point. I conceive it to be my duty to 
speak on every subject whereon I think I can throw any 
light ; and it appears to me that some things ought to be 
said which no gentleman has yet mentioned. The gentle- 
man from New Hanover said that our arguments went in at 
one ear, and out at the other. This sort of language, on 
so solemn and important an occasion, gives me pain. [Mr. 
Bloodworth here declared that he did not mean to convey 
any disrespectful idea by such an expression ; that he did 
not mean an absolute neglect of their arguments, but that 
they were not sufficient to convince him ; that he should be 
sorry to give pain to any gentleman ; that he had listened, 
and still would listen, with attention, to what would be said. 
Mr. Iredell then continued.] I am by no means surprised 
at the anxiety which is expressed by gentlemen on this sub- 
ject. Of all the trials that ever were instituted in the world, 
this, in my opinion, is the best, and that w^hich I hope will 
continue the longest. If the genth^men who composed the 
Convention had designedly omitted it, no man would be 
more ready to condemn their conduct than myself. But I 
have been told that the omission of it arose from the diffi- 
culty of establishing one uniform, unexceptionable mode ; 
this mode of trial being different, in many particulars, in the 
several states. Gentlemen will be pleased to consider that 
there is a material difference between an article fixed in the 
Constitution, and a regulation by law. An article in the 
Constitution, however inconvenient it may prove by experi- 


nee, can only be altered by altering the Constitution itself, 
"which manifestly is a thing that ought not to be done often. 
"When regulated by law, it can easily be occasionally altered 
«o as best to suit the conveniences of the people. Had 
there been an article in the Constitution taking away that 
trial, it would justly have excited the public indignation. It 
is not taken away by the Constitution. Though that does 
not provide expressly for a trial by jury in civil cases, it does 
not say that there shall not be such a trial. The reasons of 
the omission have been mentioned by a member of the late 
General Convention, (Mr. Spaight.) There are different 
practices in regard to this trial in different states. In some 
cases, they have no juries in admiralty and equity cases ; ir 
others, they have juries in these cases, as well as in suits at 
common law. I beg leave to say that, if any gentleman of 
ability and knowledge of the subject will only endeavor to 
fix upon any one rule that would be pleasing to all the states 
under the impression of their present different habits, he will 
be convinced that it is impracticable. If the practice of any 
particular state had been adopted, others, probably, whose 
practice had been different, would have been discontented. 
This is a consequence that naturally would have ensued, had 
the provision been made in the Constitution itself. But 
when the regulation is to be by law, — as that law, when 
found injudicious, can be easily repealed, a majority may 
l)e expected to agree upon some method, since some method 
or other must be first tried, and there is a greater chance of 
the favorite method of one state l>eing in time preferred. It 
is not to be presumed that the Congress would dare to de- 
prive the people of this valuable privilege. Their own in- 
terest will operate as an additional guard, as none of them 
could tell how soon they might have occasion for such a 
trial themselves. The greatest danger from ambition is in 
criminal cases. But here they have no option. The trial 
must be by jury, in the state wherein the offence is com- 
mitted ; and the writ of habeas corpus will in the mean time 
secure the citizen against arbitrary imprisonment, which has 
been the principal source of tyranny in all ages. 

As to the clause respecting cases arising under the Con- 
stitution and the laws of the Union, which the honorable 
member objected to, it must be observed, that laws are use- 
leas unless they are executed. At present. Congress have 

VOL. IV. ^ 19 13 

116 DEBATES. [Ircoell 

I>owers which they cannot execute. After making laws 
wliich affect the dearest interest of the people, in the con- 
stitutional mode, they have no way of enforcing them. The 
situation of those gentlemen who have lately served in Con- 
gress must have been very disagreeable. Congress have 
power to enter into negotiations with foreign nations, but 
cannot compel the observance of treaties that they make. 
They have been much distressed by their inability to pay 
the pressing demands of the public creditors. They have 
been reduced so low as to borrow principal to pay interest. 
Such are the unfortunate consequences of this unhappy sit- 
uation ! These are the effects of the pernicious mode of 
requisitions! Has any state fully paid its quota ? I believe 
not, sir. Yet I am far from thinking that this has been 
owing altogether to an unwillingness to pay the debts. It 
may have been in some instances the case, but I believe 
not in all. Our state le^gislature has no way of raising any 
considerable sums but by laying direct taxes. Other states 
have imports of consequence. These may afford them a 
considerable relief; but our state, perhaps, could not have 
raised its full quota by direct taxes, without imposing bur- 
dens too heavy for the people to bear. Suppose, in this sit- 
uation, Congress had proceeded to enforce their requisitions, 
by sending an army to collect them ; what would have l)een 
the consequence ? Civil war^ in which the innocent must 
have suffered with the guilty. Those who were willing to 
pay would have been equally distressed with those who were 
unwilling. Requisitions thus having failed of their purpose, 
it is proposed, by this Constitution, that, instead of collect- 
ing taxes by the sword, application shall be made by the 
government to the individual citizens. If any individual 
disobeys, the courts of justice can give immediate relief. 
This is the only natural and effectual method of enforcing 
laws. As to the danger of concurrent jurisdictions, has any 
inconvenience resulted from the concurrent jurisdictions, in 
sundry cases, of the superior and county courts of this state ? 
The inconvenience of attending at a great distance, which 
has been so much objected to, is one which would be so 
general, that there is no doubt but that a majority would 
always feel themselves and their constituents personally in- 
terested in preventing it. I have no doubt, therefore, that 
proper care will be taken to lessen this evil as much as pes- 

[redeix.] north CAROLINA. HI 

sible ; and, in particular, that an appeal to the Supreme* 
Court will not be allowed but in cases of great importance, 
where the object may be adequate to the expense. The 
Supreme Court may possibly be directed to sit alternately 
in different parts of the Union. 

The propriety of having a Supreme Court in every gov- 
ernment must be obvious to every man of reflection. There 
can be no other way of securing the administration of justice 
uniformly in the several states. There might be, otherwise, 
as many different adjudications on the same subject as there 
are states. It is to be hoped that, if this government be 
established, connections still more intimate than the present 
will subsist between the different states. The same measure 
of justice, therefore, as to the objects of their common con- 
cern, ought to prevail in all. A man in North Carolina, for 
instance, if he owed £100 here, and was compellable to 
pay it in good money, ought to have the means of recovering 
the same sum, if due to him in Rhode Island, and not merely 
the nominal sum, at about an eighth or tenth part of its intrin- 
sic value. To obviate such a grievance as this, the Constitu- 
tion has provided a tribunal to administer equal justice to all. 

A gentleman has said that the stamp act, and the taking 
away of the trial by jury, were the principal causes of 
resistance to Great Britain, and seemed to infer that opposi- 
tion would therefore be justified on this part of the system. 
The stamp act was much earlier than the immediate cause 
of our independence. But what was the great ground of op- 
position to the stamp act? Surely it was because the act 
was not passed by our own representatives, but by those of 
Great Britain. Under this Constitution, taxes are to be 
imposed by our own representatives in the General Con- 
gress. The fewness of their numbers will be compensated 
by the weight and importance of their characters. Our rep- 
resentatives will be in proportion to those of the other states. 
This case is certainly not like that of taxation by a foreign 
legislature. In respect to the trial by jury, its being taken 
away, in certain cases, was, to be sure, one of the causes as- 
signed in the Declaration of Independence. But that was 
done by a foreign legislature, which might continue it so 
forever; and therefore jealousy was justly excited. But 
this Constitution has not taken it away, and it is left to the 
discretion of our own legislature to act, in this respect, as 

148 DEBATES. [luiiKLL. 

their wisdom shall direct. In Great Britain, the people 
speak of the trial by jury with admiration. No monarch, or 
minister, however arbitrary in his principles, would dare to 
attack that noble palladium of liberty. The enthusiasm of 
the people in its favor would, in such a case, produce gen- 
eral resistance. That trial remains unimpaired there, al- 
though they have a considerable standing army, and their 
Parliament has authority to abolish it, if they please. But 
wo to thase who should attempt it ! If it be secure in that 
country, under these circumstances, can we believe that Con- 
gress either would or could take it away in this? Were 
they to attempt it, their authority would be instantly resist 
ed. They would draw down on thems^ves the resent 
ment and detestation of the people. They and their fami- 
lies, so long as any remained in being, would be held ir 
eternal infamy, and the attempt prove as unsuccessful as it 
was wicked. 

With regard to a bill of rights, this is a notion originating 
in England, where no written constitution is to be found, and 
the authority of their government is derived from the most 
remote antiquity. Magna Charta itself is no constitution, 
but a solemn instrument ascertaining certain rights of indi- 
viduals, by the legislature for the time being ; and every ar- 
ticle of which the legislature may at any time alter. This, 
and a bill of rights also, the invention of later times, were 
occasioned by great usurpations of the crown, contrary, as 
was conceived, to the principles of their government, about 
■which there was a variety of opinions. But neither that in- 
strument, nor any other instrument, ever attempted to abridge 
the authority of Parliament, which is supposed to be without 
any limitation whatever. Had their constitution been fixed 
•and certain, a bill of rights would have been useless, for the 
constitution would have shown plainly the extent of that 
authority which they were disputing about. Of what use, 
therefore, can a bill of rights be in this Constitution, where 
the people expressly declare how much power they do give, 
and consequently retain all they do not ? It is a declaration 
of particular powers by the people to their representatives, 
for particular purposes. It may be considered as a great 
.power of attorney, under which no power can be exercised 
but what is expressly given. Pid any man ever hear, be- 
fore, that at the end of a power of attorney it was said that 

'I>owALL.] NORTH CAROUNA. • 149 

^lie attorney should not exercise more power than was thde* 
^iven himP Suppose, for instance, a man had lands in the 
c^ounties of Anson and Caswell, and he should give another a' 
ipower of attorney to sell his lands in Anson, would the other 
^ave any authority to seH the lands in Caswell? — or could' 
lie, without absurdity, say, " 'Tis true you have not expressly 
snithorized me to sell the lands in Caswell ; but as you had 
lands there, and did not say f should not, I thought I might 
as well sell those lands as the other.'' A bill of rights, as I 
conceive, would not only be incongruous, but dangerous, 
^o man, let his ingenuity be what it will, could enumerate all 
the individual rights not relinquished by this Constitution. 
Suppose, therefore, an enumeration of a great many, but an 
omission of some, and that, long after all traces of our present- 
disputes were at an end, any of the omitted rights should be* 
invaded, and the invasion be complained of; what would 
be the plausible answer of the government to such a com- 
plaint ? Would they not naturally say, " We live at a great 
distance from the time when this Constitution was estab- 
lished. We can judge of it much better by the ideas of it 
entertained at tlie time, than by any ideas of our own. The- 
bill of rights, passed at that time, showed that the people' 
did not think every power retained which was not given, 
else this bill of rights was not only useless, but absurd. But 
we are not at liberty to charge an absurdity upon our ances- 
tors, who have given such strong^ proofs of their good sense, 
as well as their attachment to liberty. So long as the rights* 
enumerated in the bill of rights remain unviolated, you have 
no reason to complain. This is not one of them." Thus a 
bill of rights might operate as a snare rather than a pro- 
tection. If we had formed- a general legislature, with un- 
defined powers, a bill of rights would not only have been= 
pmper, but necessary ; and it would have then operated as- 
an exception to the legislative authority in such particulars. 
It has this effect in respect to some of the American con- 
stitutions, where the powers of legislation are general. But' 
where they are powers of a particular nature, and expressly 
defined; as in the case of the Constitution before us, T think, 
W the reasons 1 have given, a bill of rights is not only un- 
necessary, but would be absurd and dangerous. 

Mr. J. M^DOWALL. Mr. Chairman, the learned- gen 
tieman made use of several afgumenis to induce us to believe 

f60 DEBATES [Johnston. 

that the tiial by jury, in civil cases, was not in danger, and 
observed that, in criminal cases, it is provided that the trial 
is to be in the state where the crime was committed. Sup- 
pose a crime is committed at the Mississippi ; the man may 
be tried at Edenton. They ought to be tried by the people 
of the vicinage ; for when the trial is at such an immense 
distance, the principal privilege attending the trial by jury is 
taken away ; therefore the trial ought to be limited to a dis- 
trict or certain part of the state. It has been said, by the 
gentleman from Edenton, that our representatives will have 
virtue and wisdom to regulate all these things. But it would 
give me much satisfaction, in a matter of this importance, to 
see it absolutely secured. The depravity of mankind mili- 
tates against such a degree of confidence. I wish to see 
every thing fixed. 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, the observations of 
the gentleman last up confirm what the other gentleman 
said. I mean that, as there are dissimilar modes with respect 
to the trial by jury in different states, there could be no gen- 
eral rule fixed to accommodate all. He says that this clause 
is defective, because the trial is not to be by a jury of the 
vicinage. Let us look at the state of Virginia, where, as 
long as I have known it, the laws have been executed so as 
to satisfy the inhabitants, and, I believe, as well as in any 
part of the Union. In that country, juries are summoned 
every day from the by-standers. We may expect less par- 
tiality when the trial is by strangers ; and were I to be tried 
for my property or life, I would rather be tried by disinter- 
ested men, who were not biased, than by men who were 
perhaps intimate friends of my opponent. Our mode is dif- 
ferent from theirs ; but whether theirs be better than ours or 
not, is not the question. It would be improper for our dele- 
gates to impose our mode upon them, or for theirs to impose 
their mode upon us. The trial will probably be, in each 
state, as it has been hitherto used in such state, or otherwise 
regulated as conveniently as possible for the people. The 
delegates who are to meet in Congress will, I hope, be men 
of virtue and wisdom. If not, it will be our own fault. 
They will have it in their power to make necessary regula- 
tions to accommodate the inhabitants of each state. In the 
Constitution, the general principles only are laid down. It 
will be the object of the future legislation to Congress to 

^Caclaine.] north CAROLINA. 151 

snake such laws as will be most convenient for the people, 

"^Vith regard to a bill of rights, so much spoken of, what tne 

gentleman from Edenton has said, I hope, will obviate the 

objections against the want of it. In a monarchy, all power 

may be sup{K)sed to be vested in the monarch, except what 

may be reserved by a bill of rights. In England, in every 

instance where the rights of the people are not declared, 

the prerogative of the king is supposed to extend. But in 

this country, we say that what rights we do not give away 

remain with us. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH. Mr. Chairman, the footing on 
which the trial by jury is, in the Constitution, does not sat- 
isfy me. Perhaps I am mistaken ; but if I understand the 
thing right, the trial by jury is taken away. If the Supreme 
Federal Court has jurisdiction both as to law and fact, it ap- 
pears to me to be taken away. The honorable gentleman 
who was in the Convention told us that the clause, as it now 
stands, resulted from the difficulty of fixing the mode of trial. 
1 think it was easy to have put it on a secure footing. But, 
if the genius of the people of the United States is so dis- 
similar that our liberties cannot be secured, we can never 
hang long together. Interest is the band of social union ; 
and when this is taken away, the Union itself must dissolve. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, I do not take the in- 
terest of the states to be so dissimilar ; I take them to be 
all nearly alike, and inseparably connected. It is impossible 
to lay down any constitutional rule for the government of all 
the different states in each particular. But it will be easy 
for the legislature to make laws to accommodate the people 
iu every part of the Union, as circumstances may arise. 
Jury trial is not taken away in such cases where it may be 
found necessary. Although the Supreme Court has cogni- 
zance of the appeal, it does not follow but that the trial by 
jury m:iy be had in the court below, and the testimony trans- 
mitted to the Supreme Court, who will then finally determine, 
on a review of all the circumstances. This is well known 
to be the practice in some of the states. In our own state, 
indeed, when a cause is instituted in the county court, and 
afterwards there is an appeal upon it, a new trial is had in 
the superior court, as if no trial had been had before. In 
other countries, however, when a trial is had in an inferior 
court, and an appeal is taken, no testimony can be given in 

153 DEBATES. [Spbnc». 

the court above, but the court determines upon the circum- 
stances appearing upon the record. If I am right, the plain 
inference is, that there may be a trial in the inferior courts, 
and that the record, including the testimony, may be sent to 
the Supreme Court. But if there is a necessity for a jury 
in the Supreme Court, it will l)e a very easy matter to em- 
panel a jury at the bar of the Supreme Court, which may 
save great expense, and be very convenient to the people 
It is impossible to make every regulation at once. Congress, 
who are our own representatives, will undoubtedly make 
such regulations as will suit the c onvenience and secure the 
liberty of the people. 

Mr. IREDELL declared it as his opinion that there might 
be juries in the Superior Court as well as in the inferior courts, 
and that it was in the power of Congress to regulate it so. 

Tuesday, July 29, 178a 

Mr. KENNION in the chair. 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, I hope to be excused 
for making some observations on what was said yesterday, 
by gentlemen, in favor of these two clauses. The motion 
which was made that the committee should rise, precluded 
me from speaking then. The gentlemen have showed much 
moderation and candor in conducting this business ; but I 
still think that my observations are well founded, and that 
some amendments are necessary. The gentleman said, all 
matters not given up by this form of government were re- 
tained by the respective states. I know that it ought to be 
so ; it is the general doctrine, but it is necessary that it 
should be expressly declared in the Constitution, and not 
left to mere construction and opinion. I am authorized to 
say it was heretofore thought necessary. The Confedera- 
tion says, expressly, that all that was not given up by the 
United States was retained by the respective states. If such 
a clause had been inserted in this Constitution, it would 
have superseded the necessity of a bill of rights. But that not 
being the case, it was necessary that a bill of rights, or some- 
thing of that kind, should be a part of the Constitution. It was 
observed that, as the Constitution is to be a delegation of 
power from the several states to the United States, a bill of 
rights was unnecessary. But it will be noticed that this is 
a different case. 


The states do not act in their political capacities, but ihe 
^vernment is proposed for individuals. The very caption 
of the Constitution shows that this is the case. The ex 
pression, " We, the people of the United States," shows 
that this government is intended for individuals ; there ought, 
therefore, to be a bill of rights. I am ready to acknowledge 
that the Congress ought to have the power of executing its 
laws. Heretofore, because all the laws of the Confedera- 
tion were binding on the states in their political capacities, 
courts had nothing to do with them ; but now the thing is 
entirely different. The laws of Congress will be binding 
on individuals, and those things which concern individuals 
will be brought properly before the courts. In 'he next 
place, all the officers are to take an oath to carry into execu- 
tion this general government, and are bound to support every 
act of the government, of whatever nature it may be. This 
is a fourth reason for securing the rights of individuals. It 
was also observed that the federal judiciary and the courts 
of the states, under the federal authority, would have con- 
carrent jurisdiction with respect to any subject that might 
arise under the Constitution. I an> ready to say that I most 
heartily wish that, whenever this government takes place, 
the two jurisdictions and the two governments — that is, the 
general and the several state governments — may go hand 
ia hand, and that there may be no interference, but that 
every thing may be rightly conducted. But I will never 
concede that it is proper to divide the business between the 
iwo different courts. I have no doubt that there is wisdom 
enough in this state to decide the business, without the ne- 
cessity of federal assistance to do our business. The worthy 
gentleman from Edenton dwelt a considerable time on the 
observations on a bill of rights, contending that they were 
proper only in monarchies, which were founded on different 
principles from those of our government; and, therefore, 
though they might be necessary for others, yet they were 
not necessary for us. I still think that a bill of rights is 
necessary. This necessity arises from the nature of humaiY 
societies. When individuals enter into society, they give up 
some rights to secure the rest. There are certain human 
rights that ought not to be given up, and which ought iii 
some manner to be secured. With respect to these great 
essential rights, ao latitude ought to be left. They are the 
VOL. v. 20 

i 54 DEBA TES. [Spencer 

most inestimable gifts of the great Creator, and therefore 
ought not to be destroyed, but ought to be secured. The)' 
ought to be secured to individuals in consideration of the 
other rights which they give up to support society. 

The trial by jury has been also spoken of. Every person 
who is acquainted with the nature of liberty need nor be in- 
formed of the importance of this trial. Juries are called the 
bulwarks of our rights and liberty; and no country can ever be 
enslaved as long as those cases which affect their lives and 
property are to be decided, in a great measure, by the con- 
sent of twelve honest, disinterested men, taken from the re- 
spectable body of yeomanry. It is highly improper that any 
clause which regards the security of the trial by jury should 
be any way doubtful. In the clause that has been read, it 
is ascertained that criminal cases are to be tried by jury in 
the states where they are committed. It has been objected 
to that clause, that it is not suiTici6Hitly explicit. I think 
that it is not. It was observed that one may be taken to a 
great distance. One reason of the resistance to the British 
government was, because they required that we should be 
carried to the country of Great Britain, to be tried by juries 
of that country. But we insisted on being tried by juries of 
the vicinage, in our own country. I think it therefore proper 
that something explicit should be said with respect to the 

With regard to that part, that the Supreme Court shall 
have appellate jurisdiction both as to law and fact, it has 
been observed that, though the federal court might decide 
without a jury, yet the court below, which tried it, might 
have a jury. I ask the gentleman what benefit would be 
received in the suit by having a jury trial in the court below, 
when the verdict is set aside in the Supreme Court. It was 
intended by this clause that the trial by jury should be sup- 
pressed in the superior and inferior courts. It has been said, 
in defence of the omission concerning the trial by jury in 
civil cases, that one general regulation could not be made ; 
that in several cases the constitution of several states did not 
require a trial by jury, — for instance, in cases of equity and 
admiralty, — whereas in others it did, and that, therefore, 
it was proper to leave this subject at large. I am sure that, 
for the security of liberty, they ought to have been at the 
pains of drawing some line. I think that the respectable 

Davie.] NORTH CAROLINA. 165 

body who formed the' Constitution should have gone sc iar 
as to put matters on such a footing as that there should be 
no danger. They might have provided that all those cases 
which are now triable by a jury should be tried in each state 
by a jury, according to the mode usually practised in such 
state. This would have been easily done, if they had been 
at the trouble of writing five or six lines. Had it been done, 
we should have been entitled to say that our rights and liber- 
ties were not endangered. If we adopt this clause as it is, I 
think, notwithstanding what gentlemen have said, that there 
will be danger. There ought to be some amendments to it, 
to put this matter on a sure footing. There does not appear 
to me to be any kind of necessity that the federal court 
should have jurisdiction in the body of the country. I am 
ready to give up that, in the cases expressly enumerated, an 
appellate jurisdiction (except in one or two instances) might 
be i^iven. I wish them also to have jurisdiction in maritime 
affairs, and to try offences committed on the high seas. But 
in the body of a state, the jurisdiction of the courts in that 
state might extend to carrying into execution the laws of 
Congress. It must be unnecessary for the federal courts to 
do it, and would create trouble and expense which might be 
avoided. In all cases where appeals are proper, I will agree 
that it is necessary there should be one Supreme Court. 
Were those things properly regulated, so that the Supreme 
Court might not be oppressive, I should have no objection 
to it. 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman, yesterday and to-day 1 
have given particular attention to the observations of the gen- 
tleman last up. I believe, however, that, before we take 
into consideration these important clauses, it will be neces- 
sary to consider in what manner laws can be executed. For 
my own part, I know but two ways in which the laws can 
be executed by any government. If there be any other, it 
is unknown to me. The first mode is coercion by military 
force, and the second is coercion through the judiciary. 
With respect to coercion by force, I shall suppose that it is 
so extremely repugnant to the principles of justice and the 
feelings of a free people, that no man will support it. It 
must, in the end, terminate in the destruction of the liberty 
of the people. I take it, therefore, that there is no rational 
way of enforcing the laws but by the instrumentality of thb 

156 DEBATES. [DAvir 

judiciary. From these premises we are left only to consider 
how far the jurisdiction of the judiciary ought to extend. It 
appears to me that the judiciary ought to be competent to 
the decision of any question arising out of the Constitution 
Itself. On a review of the principles of all free governments, 
it seems to me also necessary that the judicial power should 
be coextensive with the legislative. 

It is necessary in all governments, but particularly in a 
federal government, that its judiciary should be competent 
to the decision of all questions arising out of the constitu- 
tion. If I understand the gentleman right, his objection 
was not to the defined jurisdiction, but to the general juris- 
diction, which is expressed thus: "The judicial power shall 
extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this Con- 
stitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, 
or which shall be made, under their authority ; " and also 
the appellate jurisdiction in some instances. Every member 
who has read the Constitution with attention must observe 
that there are certain fundamental principles in it, both of a 
positive and negative nature, which, being intended for the 
general advantage of the community, ought not to be vio- 
lated by any future legislation of the particular states. Every 
member will agree that the positive regulations ought to be 
carried into execution, and that the negative restrictions 
ought not to disregarded or violated. Without a judiciary, 
the injunctions of the Constitution may be disobeyed, and 
the positive regulations neglected or contravened. There 
are certain prohibitory provisions in this Constitution, the 
wisdom and propriety of which must strike every reflectingj^ 
mind, and certainly meet with the warmest approbation of 
every citizen of this state. It provides, " that no state shal!^ 
without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties 
on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely neces- 
sary for executing its inspection laws ; that no preference 
shall be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, 
to the ports of one state over those of another; and that no 
state shall emit bills of credit, make any thing but gold and 
silver coin a tender in payment of debts, pass any bill of 
attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation 
of contracts." These restrictions ought to supersede the 
laws of particular states. With respect to the prohibitory 
provisioir — that no duty or impost shall be laid by any par- 

Datie.] north CAROLINA. 1 57 

ticular state — which is so highly in favor of us and the othe^* 
Don -importing states, the importing states might make laws 
laying dutit's notwithstanding, and the Constitution might 
be violated with impunity, if there were no power in the 
general government to correct and counteract such laws. 
This great object can only* be safely and completely ob- 
tained by the instrumentality of the federal judiciary. Would 
not Virginia, who has raised many thousand pounds out of 
our citizens by her imposts, still avail herself of the same 
advantage if there were no constitutional power to counter- 
act her regulations? If cases arising under the Constitution 
were left to her own courts, might she not still continue the 
same practices ? But we are now to look for justice to the 
controlling power of the judiciary of the United States. If 
the Virginians were to continue to oppress us by laying 
duties, we can be relieved by a recurrence to the general 
judiciary. This restriction in the Constitution is a funda- 
mental principle, which is not to be violated, but which 
would have been a dead letter, were there no judiciary con* 
stituted to enforce obedience to it. Paper money and private 
contracts were in the same condition. Without a general 
controlling judiciary, laws might be made in particular states 
to enable its citizens to defraud the citizens of other states. 
Is it probable, if a citizen of South Carglina owed a sum of 
money to a citizen of this state, that the latter would be 
certain of recovering the full value in their courts? That 
state might in futiu-e, as they have already done, make pine- 
barren acts to discharge their debts. They might say that 
our citizens should be paid in sterile, inarable lands, at an 
extrav2igant price. They might pass the most iniquitous 
instalment laws, procrastinating the payment of debts due 
from their citizens, for years — nay, for ages. Is it probable 
that we should get justice from their ovyn judiciary, who 
might consider themselves obliged to obey the laws of their 
own state? Where, then, are we to look for justice ? To 
the judiciary of the United States. Gentlemen must have 
observed the contracted and narrow-minded regulations of 
the individual states, and their predominant disposition to 
advance the interests of their own citizens to the prejudice 
of others. Will not these evils be continued if there be no 
lestraint ? The people of the United States have one com- 
mon interest; they are all members of the same community, 


158 DEBATES. [Datir. 


and ought to have justice administered to them equally in 
every part of the continent, in the same manner, with the 
same des|)atch, and on the same principles. It is therefore 
absolutely necessary that the judiciary of the Union should 
have jurisdiction in all cases arising in law and equity under 
the Constitution. Surely there should be somewhere a 
constitutional authority for carrying into execution constitu- 
tional provisions ; otherwise, as I have already said, they 
would be a dead letter. 

With respect to their having jurisdiction of all cases arising 
under the laws of the United States, although I have a very 
high respect for the gentleman, I heard his objection to it 
with surprise. I thought, if there were any political axiom 
under the sun, it must be, that the judicial power ought to be 
coextensive with the legislative. The federal government 
ought to possess the means of carrying the laws into execu- 
tion. This position will not be disputed. A government 
would be difelo de se to put the execution of its laws under 
the control of any other body. If laws are not to be carried 
into execution by the interposition of the judiciary, how is it 
to be done ? 

I have already observed that the mind of every honest 
man, who has any feeling for the happiness of his country, 
must have the highest repugnance to the idea of military 
coercion. The only means, then, of enforcing obedience to 
the legislative authority must be through the medium of the 
officers of peace. Did the gentleman carry his oljjeciion to 
the extension of the judicial power to treaties ? It is another 
principle, which I imagine will not be controverted, that 
the general judiciary ought to be competent to the decision 
of all questions which involve the general welfare or peace 
of the Union. It was necessary that treaties should operate 
as laws upon individuals. They ought to be binding upon 
us the moment they are made. They involve in their na- 
ture not only our own rights, but those of foreigners. If the 
rights of foreigners were left to be decided ultimately by 
thirteen distinct judiciaries, there would necessarily be un- 
just and contradictory decisions. If our courts of justice 
did not decide in favor of foreign citizens and subjects when 
they ought, it might involve the whole Union in a war: 
there ought, therefore, to be a paramount tribunal, which 
should have ample power to carry them into effect. To thn 

Datie.] north CAROUNA. 169 

decision of all causes which might involve the peace of the 
Union may be referred, also, that of controversies between 
the citizens or subjects of foreign states and the citizens of 
the United States. It has been laid down by all writers 
that the denial of justice is one of the just causes of war. 
If these controversies were left to the decision of particular 
states, it would be in their power, at any time, to involve 
the continent in a war, usually the greatest of all national 
calamities. It is certainly clear that where the peace of the 
Union is affected, the general judiciary ought to decide. It 
has generally been given up, that all cases of admiralty and 
maritime jurisdiction should also be determined by them. 
It has been equally ceded, by the strongest opposers to this 
government, that the federal courts should have cognizance 
of controversies between two or more states, between a state 
and the citizens of another state, and between the citizens 
of the same state claiming Ipnds under the grant of different 
states. Its jurisdiction in these cases is necessary to secure 
impartiality in decisions, and preserve tranquillity among the 
Slates. It is impossible that there should be impartiality 
when a party affected is to be judge. 

The security of impartiality is the principal reason for 
giving up the ultimate decision of controversies between 
citizens of different states. It is essential to the interest 
of agriculture and commerce that the hands of the states 
should be bound from making paper money, instalment laws, 
or pine-barren acts. By such iniquitous laws the merchant 
or farmer may be defrauded of a considerable part of his just 
claims. But in the federal court, real money will be recov- 
ered with that speed which is necessary to accommodate the 
circumstances of individuals. The tedious delays of judicial 
proceedino:s, at present, in some states, are ruinous to cred- ^ 
iters. In Virginia, many suits are twenty or thirty years 
spun out by legal ingenuity, and the defective construction 
of their judiciary. A citizen of Massachusetts or this coun- 
trv might he ruined before he could recover a debt in that 
stite. It is necessary, therefore, in order to obtain justice, 
that we recur to the judiciary of the United States, where 
justice must be equally administered, and where a debt may 
be recovered from the citizen of one state as soon as from 
the citizen of another. 

As to a bill of rights, which has been brought forward in 

IbO DEBATES. [Maclaimc 

a manner I cannot account for, it is unnecessary to say any 
thing. The learned gentleman has said that, by a concur- 
rent jurisdiction, the laws of the United States must neces- 
sarily clash with the laws of the individual states, in conse- 
quence of which the laws of the states will be obstructed, 
and the state governments absorbed. This cannot be the 
case. There is not one instance of a power given to the 
United States, whereby the internal policy or administration 
of the states is affected. There is no instance that can be 
pointed out wherein the internal policy of the state can be 
affected by the judiciary of the United States. He men- 
tioned impost laws. It has been given up, on all hands, 
that, if there was a necessity of a federal court, it was oo 
this account. Money is difficult to be got into the treasury. 
The power of the judiciary to enforce the federal laws is 
necessary to facilitate the collection of the public revenues* 
It is well known, in this state, with what reluctance and 
backwardness collectors pay up the public moneys. We 
have been making laws after laws to remedy this evil, and 
still find them ineffectual. Is it not, therefore, necessary tc 
enable the general government to compel the delinquent re- 
ceivers to be punctual ? The honorable gentleman admits 
that the general government ought to legislate upon indi- 
viduals, instead of states. 

Its laws will otherwise be ineffectual, but particularly with 
respect to treaties. We have seen with what little ceremo- 
ny the states violated the peace with Great Britain. Con- 
gress had no power to enforce its observance. The same 
cause will produce the same effect. We need not flatter 
ourselves that similar violations will always meet with (H|uai 
impunity. I think he must be of opinion, upon reflection, 
that the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary could not have 
been constructed otherwise with safety or propriety. It is 
necessary that the Constitution should be carried into effect, 
that the laws should be executed, justice equally done to 
all the community, and treaties observed. These ends can 
only be accomplished by a general, paramount judiciary. 
These are my sentiments, and if the honorable gentleman 
will prove them erroneous, I shall readily adopt his opinions. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, I beg leave to make 
a few observations. One of the gentleman's objections to 
the Constitution now under consideration is, that it is not 

Maclainb.] north CAROLINA. Itil 

the act of the states, but of the people ; but that it ought to 
be the act of the states ; and he instances ^he delegation of 
power by the states to the Confederation, at the commence- 
ment of the war, as a proof of this position. I hope, sir, 
that all power is in the people, and not in the state govern- 
ments. If he will not deny the authority of the people to 
delegate power to agents, and to devise such a government 
as a majority of ihem thinks will promote their happiness, 
he will withdraw his objection. The people, sir, are the 
only proper authority to form a government. They, sir, 
have formed their state governments, and can alter them at 
pleasure. Their transcendent power is competent to form 
this or any other government which they think promotive of 
their happiness. But the gentleman contends that there 
ought to be a bill of rights, or something of that kind — * 
something declaring expressly, that all power not expressly 
given to the Constitution ought to be retained by the states ^ 
and he produces the Confederation as an authority for its 
necessity. When the Confederation was made, we were 
by no means so well acquainted with the principles of gov- 
ernment as we are now. We were then jealous of the 
power of our rulers, and had an idea of the British govern- 
ment when we entertained that jealousy. There is no peo- 
ple on earth so well acquainted with the nature of govern- 
ment as the people of America generally are. We know 
ngw that it is agreed upon by most writers, and men of 
judgment and reflection, that all power is in the people, 
and immediately derived from them. The gentleman surely 
must know that, if there be certain rights which never can, 
nor ought to, be piven up, these rights cannot be said to be 
given away, merely because we have omitted to say that we 
have not given them up. Can any security arise from de- 
claring that we have a right to what belongs to us ? Where 
is the necessity of such a declaration ? If we have this in- 
herent, this unalienable, this indefeasible title to those rights, 
if they are not given up, are they not retained? If Con- 
gress should make a law beyond the powers and the spirit 
of the Constitution, should we not say to Congress, " You 
have no authority to make this law. There are limits be- 
yond which you cannot go. You cannot exceed the power 
prescribed by the Constitution. You are amenable to us. for 

VOL. IV. 21 

162 DEBATES. [Maciminb. 

your conduct. This act is unconstitutional. We will dis- 
regard it, and punish you for the attempt." 

But the gentleman seems to be most tenacious of the 
judicial power of the states. The honorable gentleman 
must know, that the doctrine of reservation of power not 
relinquished, ckarly demonstrates that the judicial power of 
the states is not impaired. He asks, with respect to the 
trial by jury, " When the cause has gone up to the superior 
court, and the verdict is set aside, what benefit arises from 
having had a jury trial in the inferior court ? " I would ask 
the gentleman, " What is the reason, that, on a special ver- 
dict or case agreed, the decision is left to the court ? " 
There are a number of cases where juries cannot decide. 
When a jury finds the fact specially, or when it is agreed 
upon by the parties, the decision is referred to the court. 
If the law be against the party, the court decides against 
him ; if the law be for him, the court judges accordingly. 
He, as well as every gentleman here, must know that, un- 
der the Confederation, Congress set aside juries. There 
was an appeal given to Congress : did Congress determine 
by a jury ? Every party carried his testimony in writing 
to the judges of appeal, and Congress determined upon it. 

The distinction between matters of law and of fact has 
not been sufficiently understood, or has been intentionally 
misrepresented. On a demurrer in law, in which the facts 
are agreed upon by the parties, the law arising thereupon 
is referred to the court. An inferior court may give an er- 
roneous judgment ; an appeal may be had from this court 
to the Supreme Federal Court, and a right decision had. 
This is an instance wherein it can have cognizance of mat- 
ter of law solely. In cases where the existence of facts has 
been first disputed by one of the parties, and afterwards es- 
tablished as in a special verdict, the consideration of these 
facts, blended with the law, is left .to the court. In such 
cases, inferior courts may decide contrary to justice and law, 
and appeals may be had to the Supreme Court. This is an 
instance wherein it may be said they have jurisdiction l)oih 
as to law and fact. But where facts only are disputed, and 
where they are once established by a verdict, the opinion of 
the judges of the Supreme Court cannot, 1 conceive, set 
aside these far>ts ; for I do not think they have the powei 
so to do bv this Constitution. 

Spencer.] NORTH CAROLINA. 16b 

Xhe federal court has jurisdiction only in some instances. 
There are many instances in which no court but the state 
courts can have any jurisdiction whatsoever, except when> 
parties claim land under the grant of different states, or the 
subject of dispute arises under the Constitution itself. The 
state courts have exclusive jurisdiction over every other pos- 
sible controversy that can arise l:)etwpen the inhabitants of 
their own states ; nor can the federal courts intermeddle 
with such disputes, either originally or by appeal. There is 
a number of other instances, where, though jurisdiction is 
given to the federal court, it is not taken away from the 
state courts. If a man in South Carolina owes me money, 
I can bring suit in the courts of that state, as well as in any 
inferior federal court. 1 think gentlemen cannot but see 
the propriety of leaving to the general government the reg- 
ulation of the inferior federal tribunals. This is a power 
which our own state legislature has. We may trust Congress 
as well as them. 

Mr. SPENCER answered, that the gentleman last up 
Kad misunderstood him. He did not object to the caption 
of the Constitution, but he instanced it to show that the 
United States were not, merely as states, the objects of the 
Constitution ; but that the laws of Congress were to operate 
upon individuals, and not upon states. He then continued : 
1 do not mean to contend that the laws of the general gov- 
ernment should not operate upon individuals. I before ob- 
served that this was necessary, as laws could not be put in 
execution against states without the agency of the sword, 
which, instead of answering the ends of government, would . 
destroy it. I endeavored to show that, as the government 
was not to operate against states, but against individuals, the 
rights of individuals ought to be properly secured. In order 
to constitute this security, it appears to me there ought to 
l>e such a clause in the Constitution as there was in the Con- 
federation, expressly declaring, that every power, jurisdiction, 
and right, which are not given up by it, remain in the states. 
Such a clause would render a bill of rights unnecessary. 
But as there is no such clause, I contend that there should 
be a bill of rights, ascertaining and securing the great rights 
rf the staters and people. Besides my objection to the revis- 
ion of facts by the federal court, and the insecurity of jury 
triaJ, 1 consider the concurrent jurisdiction of those courts 

tt>4 DEBATES. [Iredell 

with the* state courts as extremely dangerous. It must be 
obvious to every one that, if they have such a concurrent 
jurisdiction, they must in time take away the business from 
the state courts entirely. I do not deny the propriety of 
having federal courts ; but they should be confined to federal 
business, and ought not to interfere in those cases where the 
state courts are fully competent to decide. The state courts 
can do their business without federal assistance. I do not 
know how far any gentleman may suppose that I may, from 
my office, be biased in favor of the state jurisdiction. I am 
no more interested than any other individual. I do not think 
it will affect the respectable office which I hold. Those 
courts will not take place immediately, and even when they 
do, it will be a long time before their concurrent jurisdiction 
will materially affect the state judiciaries. I therefore con- 
sider myself as disinterested. I only wish to have the gov* 
ernment so constructed as to promote the happiness, harmony, 
and liberty, of every individual at home, and render us re- 
spectable as a nation abroad. I wish the question to be 
decided coolly and calmly — with moderation, candor, and 

Mr. MACLAINE replied, that the gentleman's objections 
to the want of a bill of rights had been sufficiently answered; 
that the federal jurisdiction was well guarded, and that the 
federal courts had not, in his opinion, cognizance, in any one 
case, where it could be alone vested in the state judiciaries 
with propriety or safety. The gentleman, he said, had ac- 
knowledged that the laws of the Union could not be ex- 
ecuted under the existing government ; and yet he objected 
to the federal judiciary's having cognizance of such laws, 
though it was the only probable means whereby they could 
be enforced. The treaty of peace with Great Britain was 
the supreme law of the land ; yet it was disregarded, for 
want of a federal judiciary. The state judiciaries did not 
enforce an observance of it. The state courts were highly 
improper to be intrusted with the execution of the federal 
laws, as they were bound to judge according to the state 
laws, which might be repugnant to those of the Union. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I beg leave to make a 
few observations on some remarks that have been made on 
this pan of the Constitution. The honorable gentleman 
said that it was very extraordinary that the Convention should 


not have taken the trouble to make an addition of five or 
six lines, to secure the trial by jury in civil cases. Sir, if 
by the addition, not only of five or six lines, but of five or 
six hundred lines, this invaluable object could have been 
secured, I should have thought the Convention criminal in 
omitting it; and instead of meriting the thanks of their 
country, as I think they do now, they might justly have 
met with its resentment and indignation. I am persuaded 
the omission arose from the real difficulty of the case. The 
gentleman says that a mode might h^ve been provided, 
whereby the trial by jury might have been secured satis- 
factorily to all the states. I call on him to show that mode. 
I know of none ; nor do I think it possible for any man to 
devise one to which some states would not have objected. It 
is said, indeed, that it might have been provided that it should 
be as it had been heretofore. Had this been the case, surely 
it would have been highly incongruous. 

The trial by jury is diflrerent,in different states. It is reg- 
ulated in one way in the state of North Carolina, and in 
another way in the state of Virginia. It is established in a 
different way from either in several other states. Had it, 
then, been inserted in the Constitution, that the trial by jury 
should be as it had been heretofore, there would have been 
an example, for the first time in the world, of a judiciary 
belonging to the same government being different in differ- 
ent parts of the same country. What would you think of 
an act of Assembly which should require the trial by jury to 
be had in one mode in the county of Orange, and in another 
mode in Granville, and in a manner different from both in 
Chatham ? Such an act of Assembly, so manifestly inju- 
dicious, impolitic, and unjust, would be repealed next year. 

But what would you say of our Constitution, if it au- 
thorized such an absurditv ? The mischief, then, could not 
be removed without altering the Constitution itself. It 
must be evident, therefore, that the addition contended for 
would not have answered the purpose. If the method of 
any particular state had been established, it would have been 
objected to by others, because, whatever inconveniences it 
might have been attended with, nothing but a change in the 
Constitution itself could have removed them: whereas, as it 
U now, if any mode established by Congress is found in- 
tonvenient, it can easil} b ) altered by a single act of legi.«- 

166 DEBATES. [Irkdkli. 

lation Let any gentleman consider the diffitjilties in which 
the Convention was placed. A union was absolutely neces- 
sary. Every thing could be agreed upon except the regu- 
lation of the trial by jury in civil cases. They were all 
anxious to establish it on the best footing, but found they 
could fix upon no permanent rule that was not liable to great 
objections and difficulties. If they could not agree among 
themselves, they had still less reason to believe that all the 
states would have unanimously agreed to any one plan that 
could l)e proposed. They, therefore, thought it better to 
leave all such regulations to the legislature itself, conceiving 
there could be no real danger, in this case, from a body com- 
posed of our own representatives, who could have no temp- 
tation to undermine this excellent mode of trial in civil cases, 
and who would have, indeed, a personal interest, in common 
with others, in making the administration of justice between 
man and man secure and easy. 

In criminal cases, however, no latitude ought to be al- 
lowed. In these the greatest danger from any government 
subsists, and accordingly it is provided that there shall be 
a trial by jury, in all such cases, in the state wherein the 
offence is committed. I thought the objection against the 
want of a bill of rights had been obviated unanswerably. 
It appears to me most extraordinary. Shall we give up any 
thing but what is positively granted by that instrument? 
It would be the greatest absurdity for any man to pretend 
that, when a legislature is formed for a particular purpose, it 
can have any authority but what is so expressly given to it, 
any more than a man acting under a power of attorney could 
depart from the authority it conveyed to him, according to 
an instance which I stated when speaking on the subject 
before. As for example : — if I had three tracts of land, one 
in Orange, another in Caswell, and another in Chatham, 
and I gave a power of attorney to a man to sell the two 
tracts in Orange and Caswell, and he should attempt to sell 
my land in Chatham, would any man of common sense sup- 
pose he had authority to do so ? In like manner, I say, the 
future Congress can have no right to exercise any power 
but what is contained in that paper. Negative words, in 
my opinion, could make the matter no plainer than it was 
before. The gentleman says that unalienable rights ought 
not 10 be given up. Those rights which are unalienable^ 

Bloodworth.] north CAROLINA 16"* 

are not alienated. They still remain with the great bodj 
of the people. If any right be given up that ought not to 
be, let it be shown. Say it is a thing which affects your 
country, and that it ought not to be surrendered : this 
would le reasonable. But when it is evident that the ex- 
ercise o!' any power not given up would be a usurpation, it 
would be not only useless, but dangerous, to enumerate a 
number of rights which are not intended to be given up ; 
because it would l)e implying, in the strongest manner, that 
every right not included in the exception might be impaired 
by the government without usurpation ; and it would be 
impossible to enumerate every one. Let any one make 
what collection or enumeration of rights he pleases, I will 
immediately mention twenty or thirty more rights not con- 
tained in ii. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH. Mr. Chairman, I have listened 
with attention to the gentleman's arguments; but whether 
it be for want of sufficient attention, or from the grossness 
of my ideas, I cannot be satisfied with his defence of the 
omission, with respect to the trial by jury. He says that 
it would be impossible to fall on any satisfactory mode of 
regulating the trial by jury, because there are various cus- 
toms relative to it in the different states. Is this a satisfac- 
tory cause for the omission ? Why did it not provide that 
the trial by jury should be preserved in civil cases? It has 
said that the trial should be by jury in criminal cases ; and 
vet this trial is different in its manner in criminal cases in 
the different states. If it has been possible to secure it in 
criminal cases, notwithstanding the diversity concerning it, 
why has it not been possible to secure it in civil cases? 
I wish this to be cleared up. By its not being provided for, 
it is expressly provided against. I still see the necessity of 
a bill of rights. Gentlemen use contradictory arguments on 
this subject, if I recollect right. Without the most express 
restrictions, Cong^ress may trample on your rights. Every 
possible precaution should be taken when we grant powers. 
Rulers are always disposed to abuse them. I beg leave to 
call gentlemen's recollection to what happened under our 
Confederation. By it, nine states are required to make a 
treaty; yet seven states said that they could, with propriety, 
repeal part of the instructions given our secretary for foreign 
affairs, which prohibited him from making a treaty to givf 

168 DEBATES. [Locks 

up the Mississippi to Spain, by which repeal the rest of his 
instructions enabled him to make such treaty. Seven states 
actually did repeal the prohibitory part of these instructions, 
and they insisted it was legal and proper. This was in fart 
a violation of the Confederation. If gentlemen thus put 
what construction they please upon words, how shall we 
be redressed, if Congress shall say that all that is not ex- 
pressed is given up, and they assume a power which is 
expressly inconsistent with the rights of mankind ? Where 
is the power to pretend to deny its legality ? This has oc- 
curred to me, and I wish it to be explained. 

Mr. SPENCER. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman express- 
es admiration as to what we object with respect to a bill of 
tights, and insists that what is not given up in the Constitu- 
lion is retained. He must recollect I said, yesterday, that 
we could not guard with too much care those essential rights 
and liberties which ought never to be given up. There is 
no express negative — no fence against their being trampled 
upon. They might exceed the proper boundary without 
htjing taken notice of. When there is no rule but a vague 
dcctrine, they might make great strides, and get possession 
of so much power that a general insurrection of the people 
wuuld be necessary to bring an alteration about. But if a 
bc/undary were set up, when the Iwundary is passed, the 
))copIe would take notice of it immediately. These are the 
observations which I made ; and I have no doubt that, when 
he reflects, he will acknowledge the necessity of it. 1 ac- 
knowledge, however, that the doctrine is right ; but if that 
Constitution is not satisfactory to the people, I would have a 
bill of rights, or something of that kind, to satisfy them. 

Mr. LOCKE. Mr. Chairman, I wish to throw some par- 
ticular light upon the subject, according to my conceptions 
I think the Constitution neither safe nor beneficial, as it 
grants powers unbounded with restrictions. One gentleman 
has said that it was necessary to give cognizance of causes 
to the federal court, because there was partiality in the 
judges of the states ; that the state judges could not be 
depended upon in causes arising under the Constitution and 
law? of the Union. I agree that impartiality in judges is in- 
dispensable ; but I think this alteration will not produce more 
impartiality than there is now in our courts, whatever evils 
it may bring forth. Must there not be judges in tlxg federal 


courts, and those judges taken from some of the states ^ 
The same partiality, therefore, may be in them. For mj 
part, 1 think it derogatory to the honor of this state to give 
this jurisdiction to the federal courts. It must be supposed 
that the same passions, dispositions, and failings of humanity 
which attend the state judges, will be equally the lot of the 
federal judges. To justify giving this cognizance to those 
courts, it must be supposed that all justice and equity are 
given up at once in the states. Such reasoning is very 
strange to me. I fear greatly for this state, and for other 
states. I find there has a considerable stress been Inid upon 
the injustice of laws made heretofore. Great reflections are 
thrown on South Carolina for passing pine-batren and instal- 
ment laws, and on this state for making paper money. I 
wish those gentlemen who made those observations would 
consider the necessity which compelled us in a great measure 
to make such money. I never thought the law which au- 
thorized it a good law. If the evil could have been avoided, 
it would have been a very bad law ; but necessity, sir, justi- 
fied it in some degree. I believe I have gained as little by 
it as any in this house. If we are to judge of the future by 
what we have seen, we shall find as much or more injustice 
in Congress than in our legislature. Necessity compelled 
them to pass the law, in order to save vast numbers of peo- 
ple from ruin. 1 hope to be excused in observing that it 
would have been hard for our late Continental army to lay 
down their arms, \%ith which they had valiantly and success- 
fully fought for their country, without receiving or being 
promised and assured of some compensation for their past 
services. What a situation would this country have been in, 
if they had had the power over the purse and sword! If 
they had the powers given up by this Constitution, what a 
wretched situation would this country have been in ! Con- 
gress was unable to pay them, but passed many resolutions 
and laws in their favor, particularly one that each slate should 
make up the depreciation of the pay of the Continental line, 
who were distressed for the want of an adequate compensa- 
tion for their services. This state could not pay her pro(X)r- 
tion in ^specie. To have laid a tax for that purpose would 
have been oppressive. What was to l)e done ? The only 
expedient was to pass a law to make paper money, and make 
^t a tender. l*he Continental line was satisfied, and ap- 

VOL. IV. 22 15 

170 DEBATES. [Iredell 

proved of the measure, it being done at their instance in 
some degree. Notwithstanding it was supposed to be highlj 
beneficial to the state, it is found to be injurious to it. 
Saving expense is a very great object, but this incurred 
much expense. This subject has for many years embroiled 
the state ; but the situation of the country, and the distress 
of the people are so great, that the public measures must be 
accommodated to their circumstances with peculiar delicacy 
and caution, or another insurrection may be the consequence. 
As to what the gentleman said of the trial by jury, it sur- 
prises me much to hear gentlemen of such great abilities 
speak such language. It is clearly insecure, nor can ingenu- 
ity and subtle arguments prove the contrary. I trust this 
country is too sensible of the value of liberty, and her citi- 
zens have lK)ught it too dearly, to give it up hastily. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I hope some other 
gentleman will answer what has been said by the gentlemen 
who have spoken last. I only rise to answer the question of 
the member from New Hanover — which was, if there was 
such a difficulty, in establishing the trial by jury in civil cases, 
that the Convention could not concur in any mode, why the 
difficulty did not extend to criminal cases ? I beg leave to 
say, that the difficulty, in this case, does not depend so much 
on the mode of proceeding, as on the difference of the sub- 
jects of controversy, and the laws relative to them. In 
some states, there are no juries in admiralty and equity cases. 
In other states, there are juries in such cases. In some 
states, there are no distinct courts of equity, though in most 
states there are. I believe that, if a uniform rule had been 
fixed by the Constitution, it would have displeased some 
states so far that they would have rejected the Constitution 
altogether. Had it been declared generally, as the gentle- 
man, mentioned, it would have included equity and maritime 
cases, and created a necessity of deciding them in a manner 
different from that in which they have been decided hereto- 
fore in many of the states ; which would very probably have 
met with the disapprobation of those stales. 

We have been told, and I believe this was the real reason, 
why tiTey could not concur in any general rule. I havp great 
respect for the characters of those gentlemen who formed the 
Convention, and I believe they were not capable of over- 
looking the importance of the trial by jury, much less of 

«• • 

Iredell.] NORTH CAROLLNA. /l 

designedly plotting against it. But I fully believe that tho 
real diQiculty of the thing was the cause of the omission. I 
trust sufticient reasons have been offered, to show that it '15 
ill no danger. As to criminal cases, I must observe that the 
^reai instrument of arbitrary power is criminal prosecutions. 
By the privileges of the habeas corpus, no man can be con- 
fined without inquiry ; and if it should appear that he has 
luen committed contrary to law, he must be discharged- 
That diversity which is to be found in civil controversies, 
does not exist in criminal cases. That diversity which con- 
tributes to the security of property in civil cases, would have 
pernicious effects in criminal ones. There is no other safe 
mode to try these but by a Jury. If any man had the means 
of trying another his own way, or were it left to the con- 
trol of arbitrary judges, no man would have that security for 
life and liberty which every freeman ought to have. I pre- 
sume that in no state on the continent is a man tried on a 
criminal accusation but by a jury. It was necessary, there- 
Tore, that it should be fixed, in the Constitution, that the trial 
should be by jury in criminal cases; and such difficulties did 
not occur in this as in the other case. The worthy geiitle- 
tnan says, that by not being provided for in civil cases, it is. 
t^xpressly provided against, and that what is not expressed 
is given up. Were it so, no man would be more against 
this Constitution than myself. I should detest and oppose 
It as much as any man. But, sir, this cannot be the case. 
I bt^g leave to say that that construction appears to me ab- 
surd and unnatural. As it could not be fixed either on the 
principles of uniformity or diversity, it mus.t be left to Con- 
gress to modify it. If they establish it in any manner by 
law, and find it inconvenient, they can alter it. But I am 
convinced that a majority of the representatives of the peo- 
ple will never attempt to establish a mode oppressive to 
their constituents, as it will be their own interest to take 
care of this right But it is observed that there ought to be 
a fence provided against future encroachments of power. If 
there be not such a fence, it is a cause of objection. I read- 
ily agree that there ought to be such a fence. The instru- 
ment ought to contain such a definition of authority as would 
leave no doubt; and if there be any ambiguity, it ought not 
to be admitted. He says this construction is not agreeable 
to the people, though he acknowledges it is a right one. 

172 DEBATES. [Maclaini 

In my opinion, there is no man, of any reason at all, but 
must be satisfied with so clear and plain a definition. If 
the Congress should claim any power not given them, it 
would be as bare a usurpation as making a king in America. 
If this Constitution be adopted, it must be presumed the in- 
strument will be in the hands of every man in America, to 
see whether authority be usurped ; and any person by in- 
specting it may see if the power claimed be enumerated. If 
it be not, he will know it to be a usurpation. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chau-man, a gentleman lately 
up (Mr. Locke) has informed us of his doubts and fears 
respecting the federal courts. He is afraid for this state 
and other states. He supposes that the idea of cognizance 
of the laws of the Union to federal courts, must have arisen 
from suspicions of partiality and want of common integrity 
in our state judges. The worthy gentleman is mistaken in 
his construction of what I said. I did not personally reflect 
on the members of our state judiciary ; nor did I impute 
the impropriety of vesting the state judiciaries with exclu- 
sive jurisdiction over the laws of the Union, and cases arising 
under the Constitution, to any want of probity in the judges. 
But *if they be the judges of the local or state laws, and 
receive emoluments for acting in that capacity, they will be 
improper persons to judge of the laws of the Union. A 
federal judge ought to be solely governed by the laws of the 
United States, and receive his salary from the treasury of 
the United States. It is impossible for any judges, receiving 

Eay from a single state, to be impartial in cases where the 
)cal laws or interests of that state clash with the laws of the 
Union, or the general interests of America. We have in- 
stances here which prove this partiality in such cases. It is 
also so in other states. The gentleman has thrown out 
something very uncommon. He likens the power given by 
this Constitution to giving the late army the purse and the 
sword. I am much astonished that such an idea should be 
thrown out by that gentleman, because his respectability is 
well known. If he considers for a moment, he must see that 
his observation is bad, and that the comparison is extremely 
absurd and improper. The purse and the sword must be 
given to every government. The sword is given to the ex- 
ecutive magistrate ; but the purse remains by this Constitu- 
tion, in the representatives of the people We know ver\ 


^ell that they cannot raise one shilling but by the consent ol' 
the representatives of the people. Money bills do not even 
originate in the Senate ; they originate solely in the other 
house. Every appropriation must be by law. We know, 
therefore, that no executive magistrate or officer can appro- 
priate a shilling, but as he is authorized by law. With 
respect to paper money, the gentleman has acted and spoken 
with great candor. He was against paper money from the 
first emission. There was no other way to satisfy the late 
army but by paper money, there being not a shilling of specie 
in the state. There were other modes adopted by other 
states, which did not produce such inconveniences. There 
was, however, a considerable majority of that assembly who 
adopted the idea, that not one shilling more paper money 
should be made, because of the evil consequences that must 
necessarily follow. The experience of this country, for 
many years, has proved that such emissions involve us in 
debts and distresses, destroy our credit, and produce no 
good consequences; and yet, contrary to all good policy, 
the evil was repeated. 

With respect to our public security and paper money, 
the apprehensions of gentlemen are groundless. I believe 
this Constitution cannot aSect them at all. In the 10th 
section of the 1st article, it is provided, among other re- 
strictions, ^< that no state shall emit bills of credit, make 
any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment oi 
debts, or pass any law impairing the obligation of con- 
tracts." Now, sir, this has no retrospective view. It looks 
to futurity. It is conceived by many people, that the mo- 
ment this new Constitution is adopted, our present paper 
money will sink to nothing. For my part, I believe that, 
instead of sinking, it will appreciate. If we adopt, it will 
rise in value, so that twenty shillings of it will be equal to 
two Spanish milled dollars and a half. Paper money is as 
good as gold and silver where there are proper funds to 
redeem it, and no danger of its being increased. Before 
the late war, our paper money fluctuated in value. Thirty- 
six years ago, when I came into this country, our paper 
money was at seven shillings to the dollar. A few years 
before the late war, the merchants of Great Britain re- 
monstrated to the ministry of that country, that they lost 
much of theu" debts by paper money losing its value. This 

174 DEBATES. [Bass.- 

caused an order to be made through all the states not to- 
pass any money bills whatever. The effect of this was, that, 
our paper money appreciated. At the commencement of 
the war, our paper money in circulation was equal to gold, 
or silver. But it is said that, on adoption, all debts con- 
tracted heretofore must then be paid in gold or silver coin^ 
I believe that, if any gentleman will attend to the clauses 
above recited, he will find that it has no retrospective, but. 
a prospective view. It does not look back, but forward. Ir 
does not destroy the paper money which is now actually 
made, but prevents ns from making any more. This is 
much in our favor, because we may pay in the money we 
contracted for, (or such as is equal in value to it;) and the 
very restriction against an increase of it will add to its 
value. It is in the power of the legislature to establish a 
scale of depreciation, to fix the value of it. There is nothing 
against this in the Constitution. On the contrary, it favors 
it. I should be much injured if it was really to be the case 
that the paper money should sink. After the Constitution 
was adopted, I should think myself, as a holder of our paper 
money, possessed of Continental security. I am convinced 
our money will be good money ; and if I was to speculate 
in any thing, I would in paper money, though I never did 
speculate. I should be satisfied that I should make a profit. 
Why say that the state security will be paid in gold and 
silver after all these things are considered ? Every real, 
actual debt of the state ought to be discharged in real, and 
not nominal value, at any rate. 

Mr. Bass took a general view of the original and appel- 
late jurisdiction of the federal court. He considered the 
Constitution neither necessary nor proper. He declared 
that the last part of the 1st paragraph of the 2d section 
appeared to him totally inexplicable. He feared that dread- 
ful oppression would be committed by carrying people too 
great a distance to decide trivial causes. He observed that 
gentlemen of the law and men of learning did not concur in 
the explanation or meaning of this Constitution. For his 
part, he said, he could not understand it. alihouj^h he took 
great pains to find out its meaning, and although he flattered 
himself with the possessioti of common sense and reason 
He always thought that there ought to be a compact be 
tween the governors and governed. Some called this a 

Maclainb] north CAROLINA. 176 

compact ; others said it was not. From the contrariety of 
opinions, he thought the thing was either uncommonly difii- 
cult, or absolutely unintelligible. He wished to reflect on 
no gentleman, and apologized for his ignorance, by ob- 
serving that he never went to school, and had been' born 
blind ; but he wished for information, and supposed that 
every gentleman would consider his desire as laudable. 

Mr. MACLAINE first, and then Mr. IREDELL, en- 
deavored to satisfy the gentleman, by a particular explanation 
of the whole paragraph. It was observed that, if there 
should be a controversy between this state and the king of 
France or Spain, it must be decided in the federal court. 
Or if there should arise a controversy between the French 
king, or any other foreign power, or one of their subjects or 
citizens, and one of our citizens, it must be decided there 
also. The distinction betwt^en the words citizen and subject 
was explained — that the former related to individuals of 
popular governments, the latter to those of monarchies ; as, 
for instance, a dispute between this state, or a citizen of it, 
and a person in Holland. The words foreign citizen would 
properly refer to such jiersons. If the dispute was between 
this state and a person in Franco or Spain, the words^e?t^n 
subject would apply to this ; and all such controversies might 
be decided in the federal court — that the words citizens or 
subjects^ in that part of the clause, could only apply to 
foreign citizens or foreign subjects; and another part of the 
constitution made this plain, by confining disputes, in gen- 
eral, between citizens of the same state, to the single case 
of their claiming lands under grants of different states. 

The last clause of the 2d section under consideration. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, an objection was 
made yesterday by a gentleman against this clause, because 
it confined the trial to the stale; and he observed that a 
person on the Mississippi might be tried in Edenton. 

Gentlemen ought to consider that it was im})ossible for 
the Convention, when devising a general rule for all the 
states, to descend to particular districts. The trial by Jury 
is secured generally, by providing that the trial shall be in 
the state where the crime was committed. It is left to 
Congress to make such regulations, by law, as will suit the 
circumstances of each state. It would have been impolitic 
to fix the mode of proceeding, because it would alter the 

176 DEBATES. [Iredeu. 

present mode of proceeding, in such cases, in this state, or 
in several others; for there is such a dissimilarity in the pro- 
ceedings of different states, that it would be impossible to 
make a general law which would be satisfactory to the 
whole. But as the trial is to be in the state, there is no 
doubt but it will be the usual and common mode practised 
in the state. 

3d section read without any observation. 

Article 4th. The Isi section, and two first clauses of the 
2d section, read without observation. 

The; last clause read. 

Mr. IREDELL begged leave to explain the reason of 
this clause. In some of the Northern States they have 
emancipated all their slaves. If any of our slaves, siiid he, 
go there, and remain there a certain time, they would, by 
the present laws, be entided to their freedom, so that their 
masters could not get them again. This would be extremely 
prejudicial to the inhabitants of the Southern States; and 
to prevent it, this clause is inserted in the Constitution. 
Though the word slave is not mentioned, this is the meaning 
of it. The northern delegates, owing to their particular 
scruples on the subject of slavery, did not choose the word 
slave to be mentioned. 

The rest of the 4th article read without any observation. 

Article 5th. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, this is a very important 
clause. In every other constitution of government that 1 
have ever heard or read of, no provision is made for neces- 
sarv amendments. The misfortune attending most constitu* 
tions which have been deliberately formed, has been, that 
those who formed them thought their wisdom equal to all 
possible contingencies, and that there could be no error in 
what they did. The gentlemen who framed this Constitu- 
tion thought with much more diffidence of their capacities ; 
and, undoubtedly, without a provision for amendment it would 
have been more justly liable to objection, and the characters 
of its framers would have appeared much less meritorious. 
This, indeed, is one of the greatest beauties of the system, 
and should strongly recommend it to every candid mind. 
The Constitution of any government which cannot be regu- 
larly amended when its defects are experienced, reduces the 
peoole to this dilemma — they must either submit to its 


oppressions, or bring about amendments, more or less, by a 
civil war. Happy this, the country we live in ! The Con- 
stitution before us, if it be adopted, can be altered with as 
much regularity, and as little confusion, as any act of As- 
seuibly; not, indeed, quite so easily, which would be ex- 
tremely impolitic ; but it is a most happy circumstance, that 
there is a remedy in the system itself for its own fallibility, 
so that alterations can without difficulty be made, agreeable 
to the general sense of the people. Let us attend to the 
manner in which amendments may be made. The propo- 
sition for amendments may arise from Congress itself, when 
two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary. If they 
should not, and yet amendments be generally wished for by 
the people, two thirds of the legislatures of the different 
states may require a general convention for the purjwse, in 
^vhich case Congress are under the necessity of convening 
C3ne. Any amendments which either Congress shall propose, 
which shall be proposed by such general convention, are 
fterwards to be submitted to the legislatures of the different 
s^tates, or conventions called for that purpose, as Congress 
^hall think proper, and, upon the ratification of three fourths 
^Df the states, will become a part of the Constitution. By 
referring this business to the legislatures, expense would be 
saved ; and in general, it may be presumed, they would 
speak the genuine sense of the people. It may, however, 
^n some occasions, be better to consult an immediate dele- 
gation for that special purpose. This is therefore left dis- 
cretionary. It is highly probable that amendments agreed 
to in either of these methods would be conducive to the 
public welfare, when so large a majority of the states con- 
sented to them. And in one of these modes, amendments 
that are now wished for may, in a short time, be made to 
this Constitution by the states adopting it. 

It is, however, to be observed, that the 1st and 4th clauses 
m the 9ih section of the 1st article are protected from any 
alteration till the year 1808 ; and in order that no consolida- 
tion should take place, it is provided that no state shall, by 
any amendment or alteration, be ever deprived of an equal 
suffrage in the Senate without its own consent. The first 
two prohibitions are with respect to the census, (according to 
which direct taxes are impsed,) and with respect to the in>- 
portation of slaves. As to the first, it must be obsi»rved, tlvaf 
VOL. IV. 23 

1 78 DEBATES. [Ijibdclu 

tlicre is a material difference between the Northern and 
Southern States. The Northern States have been much 
longer settled, and are much fuller of people, than the 
Southern, but have not land in equal proportion, nor scarcely 
<uiy slaves. The subject of this article was regulated with 
great difficulty, and by a spirit of concession which it would 
not l)e prudent to disturb for a good many years. In twenty 
years, there will probably be a great alteration, and then the 
subject may be reconsidered with less difficulty and greater 
coolness. In the mean time, the compromise was upon the 
l>est footing that could be obtained. A compromise like- 
wise took place in regard to the importation of slaves. It is 
probable that all the members reprobated this inhuman 
traffic ; but those of South Carolina and Georgia would not 
consent to an immediate prohibition of it — one reason of 
which was, that, during the last war, they lost a vast num- 
ber of negroes, which loss they wish to supply. In the 
mean time, it is left to the states to admit or prohibit the 
importation, and Congress may impose a limited duty 
upon it. 

Mr. BASS observed, that it was plain that the introduction 
of amendments depended altogether on Congress. 

Mr. IREDELL replied, that it was very evident that it 
did not depend on the will of Congress ; for that the legisla- 
tures of two thirds of the states were authorized to make 
application for calling a convention to propose amendments, 
and, on such application, it is provided that Congress shali 
call such convention, so that they will have no option. 

Article 6th. 1st clause read without any observation. 

2d clause read. 

Mr. IREDELL. This clause is supposed to give too 
much power, when, in fact, it only provides for the execu- 
tion of those powers which are already given in the forego- 
ing articles. What does it say? That "this Constitution, 
and the laws of the United States which shall be made in 
pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be 
made, under the authority of the United States, shall l)e the 
supreme law of the land ; and the judges in every state shall 
be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of 
any state to the contrary notwithstanding." What is the 
meaning of this, but that, as we have given power, we will 
support the execution of it ? We should act like children, re 


give power and deny the legality of executing it. It is say-* 
•Jig no more than that, when we adopt the government, we 
will maintain and obey it ; in the skme manner as if the 
Constitution of this state had said that, when a law is passed* 
in conformity to it, we must obey that law. Would this be 
objected to? Then, when the Congress passes a law con 
sistent with the Constitution, it is to be binding on the 
people. If Congress, under pretence of executing one 
power, should, in fact, usurp another, they will violate the 
Constitution. I presume, therefore, that this explanation, 
which appears to me the plainest in the world, will be eu- 
lirely satisfactory to the committee. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH. Mr. Chairman, I confess hw 
explanation is not satisfactory to me. I wish the gentleman 
had gone fartheir. I readily agree that it is giving them no 
more power than to execute their laws. But how far does 
this go? It appears to me to sweep off all the constitutions 
of the states. It is a total repeal of every act and constitu- 
tion of the states. The judges are sworn to uphold it. If 
will produce an abolition of the state governments. Its 
sovereignty absolutely annihilates them. 

Mr. Iredell. Mr. chairman, every power delegated 
to Congress is to be executed by hivvs made for that purpose. 
It is necessary to particularize the powers intended to be 
given, in the Constitution, as having no existence before ; 
but, after having enumerated what we give up, it follows, of 
course, that whatever is done, by virtue of that authority, is 
legiil without any new authority or power. The question, 
then, under this clause, will always be, whether Congress 
has exceeded its authority. If it has not exceeded it, we 
must oliey, otherwise not. This Constitution, when adopted, 
will become a part of our state Constitution; and the latter 
must yield to the former only in those cases where power is 
given by it. It is not to yield to it in any other case what- 
ever. For instance, there is nothing in the Constitution of 
this state establishing the authority of a federal court. Yet 
the federal court, when established, will be as constitutional 
as the superior court is now under our Constitution. It ap- 
pears to me merely a general clause, the amount of which is 
that, when they pass an act, if it be in the execution of ar 
power given by the Constitution, it shall be binding on th^ 
people, otherwise not. As td the sufficiency or extent o^ thi* 

l8C DEBATES. [Maclaink 

power, tha": is another consideration, and has been discussed 

Mr. BLOODWORTH. This clause will be the destruc- 
tion of every law which will come in competition with the 
laws of the United States. Those laws and regulations 
which have been, or shall be, made in this state, must be 
destroyed by it, if they come in competition with the powers 
of Congress. Is it not necessary to define the extent of its 
operation ? Is not the force of our tender-laws destroyed by 
it ? The worthy gentleman from Wilmington has endeavored 
to obviate the objection as to the Constitution's destroying 
the credit of our paper money, and paying debts in coin, but 
unsatisfactorily to me. A man assigns, by legal action, a 
bond to a man in another state ; could that bond be paid by 
money ? I know it is very easy to be wrong. I am con- 
scious of being frequently so. I endeavor to be open to con- 
nction. This clause seems to me too general, and I think 
its extent ought to be limited and defined. I should suppose 
every reasonable man would think some amendments to it 
were necessary. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, that it will destroy 
the state sovereignty is a very j)opular argument. I beg 
leave to have the attention of the committee. Government 
is formed for the happiness and prosperity of the people at 
large. The powers given it are for their own good. We 
have found, by several years' experience, that government, 
taken by itself nominally, without adequate power, is not 
sufficient to promote their prosperity. Sufficient powers 
must be given to it. The powers to be given the general 
government are proposed to be withdrawn from the authority 
of the state governments, in order to protect and secure the 
Union at large. This proposal is made to the people. No 
man will deny their authority to delegate powers and recall 
them, in all free countries. But, says the gentleman last up, 
the construction of the Constitution is in the power of Con- 
gress, and it will destroy the sovereignty of the state govern- 
ments. It may be justly said that rt diminishes the power 
of the state legislatures, and the diminution is necessary to 
the safety and prosperity of the people ; but it may be fairly 
said that the members of the general government, — the Presi- 
dent, senators, and representatives, — : whom we send thither, 
by our free suffi'ages, to consult our common interest, will 

Maclainx.] north CAROLINA. 181 

not wish to destroy the state governments, because the^ex- 
istence of the general government will depend on that of the 
state governments. 

But what is the sovereignty, and who is Congress ? One 
branch, the people at large ; and the other branch, the states 
by their representatives. Do people fear the delegation of 
power to themselves — to their own representatives? But 
be objects that the laws of the Union are to be the supreme 
laws of the land. Is it not proper that their laws should t)e 
the laws of the land, and paramount to those of any particu- 
lar state? — or is it proper that the laws of any particular 
state should control the laws of the United States ? Shall a 
part control the whole ? To permit the local laws of any 
state to control the laws of the Union, would be to give the 
general government no powers at all. If the Judges are not 
to be bound by it, the powers of Congress will be nugatory. 
This is self-evident and plain. Bring it home to every un- 
derstanding ; it is so clear it will force itself upon it. The 
"^vorthy gentleman says, in contradiction to what 1 have 
observed, that the clause which restrains the states from emit- 
ting paper money, &c., will operate upon the present cir- 
culating paper money, and that gold and silver must pay 
paper contracts. The clause cannot possibly have a retro- 
spective view. It» cannot affect the existing currency in any 
manner, except to enhance its value by the prohibition of 
future emissions. It is contrary to the universal principles 
of jurisprudence, that a law or constitution should have a ret- 
rospective operation, unless it be expressly provided that it 
shall. Does he deny the power of the legislature to fix a 
scale of depreciation as a criterion to regulate contracts made 
for depreciated money ? As to the question he has put, of an 
assigned bond, I answer that it can be paid with paper 
money. For this reason, the assignee can be in no better 
situation than the assignor. If it be regularly transferred, it 
will appear what person had the bond originally, and the 
present possessor can recover nothing but what the original 
holder of it could. Another reason which may be urged is, 
that the federal courts could have no cognizance of such a 
suit. Those courts have no jurisdiction in cases of debt be- 
tween the citizens of the same state. The assignor being a 
citizen of the same state with the debtor, and assigning it to 

a citizen of another state, to avoid the intent of the Constitu- 


!82 DEBATES. [J>A¥ii( 

iioir, the assignee can derive no advantage from the assign* - 
ment, except what the assignor had a right to ; and conse* - 
quenlly the gentleman's objection falls to the ground. 

Every gentleman must see the necessity for the laws of 
the Union to be paramount to those of the separate states, 
and that the powers given by this Constitution must be ex- 
ecuted. What, shall we ratify a government and then say it- 
shall not operate ? This would be the same as not to ratify. 
As to the amendments, the best characters in the country^ 
and those whom I most highly esteem, wish for amendments. 
Some parts of it arc not organized to my wish. But I ap- 
prehend no danger from the structure of the government 
One gentleman (Mr. Bass) said he thought it neither neces- 
sary nor proper. For my part, I think it essential to our 
very existence as a nation, and our happiness and prosperity 
as a free people. The men who composed it were men of 
great abilities and various minds. They carried their knowl- 
edge with them. It is the result, not only of great wisdom 
and mutual reflection, but of ^' mutual deference and con- 
cession." It has trifling faults, but they are not dangerous. 
Yet at the same time I declare that, if gentlemen pro|)ose 
amendments, if they be not such as would destroy the gov- 
ernment entirely, there is not a single member here more 
willing to agree to them than myself. 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman: permit me, sir, to make a 
few observations on the operation of the clause so often 
mentioned. This Constitution, as to the powers therein 
[ranted, is constantly to be the supreme law of the land 
.very power ceded by it must be executed, without being 
counteracted by the laws or constitutions of the individual 
states. Gentlemen should distinguish that it is not the su- 
preme law in the exercise of a power not granted. It can 
be supreme only in cases consistent with the powers specially 
granted, and not in usurpations. If you grant any power to 
the federal government, the laws made in pursuance of that 
power must be supreme, and uncontrolled in their operation. 
This consequence is involved in the very nature and necessity 
of the thing. The only rational inquiry is, whether those 
powers are necessary, and whether they are properly granted. 
To say that you have vested the federal government with 
power to legislate for the Union, and then deny the supreme 
acy of the laws, is a solecism in terms. With respect to iu 

Oatix.] north CAROLINA. 133 

operation on our own paper money, I believe tnat a little 
consideration will satisfy everj man: that it cannot have the 
effect asserted by the gentleman from New Hanovei. The 
Federal Convention knew that several states had large sums 
of paper money in circulation, and that it was an interesting 
property, and they were sensible that those stares would 
never consent to its immediate destruction, or ratify any 
system that would have that operation. The mischief 
already done could not be repaired : all that could be done 
was, to form some limitation to this great political evil. As 
the paper money had become private property, and the 
object of numberless contracts, it could not be destroyed or 
intermeddled with in that situation, although its baneful tend- 
ency was obvious and undeniable. It was, however, effect- 
ing an important object to put bounds to this growing mis- 
chief, if the states had been compelled to sink the paper 
money instantly, the remedy might be worse than the disease. 
-As we could not put an immediate end to it, we were con- 
sent with prohibiting its future increase, looking forward to 
its entire extinguishment when the states that had an emis- 
s^ion circulating should be able to call it hi by a gradual 

In Pennsylvania, their paper money was not a tender in 
discharge of private contracts. In South Carolina, their 
bills became eventually a tender ; and in Rhode Island, 
New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina, the paper 
money was. made a legal tender in all cases whatsoever. 
The other states were sensible that the destruction of the 
circulating paper would be a violation of the rights of private 
property, and that such a measure would render the acces- 
sion of those states to the system absolutely impracticable. 
The injustice and pernicious tendency of this disgraceful 
policy were viewed with great indignation by the states which 
adhered to the principles of justice. In Rhode Island, the 
paper money had depreciated to eight for one, and a hundred 
per cent, with us. The people of Massachusetts and Con- 
necticut had been great sufferers by the dishonesty of Rhode 
Island, and similar complaints existed against this state. 
This clause became in some measure a preliminary with the 
gentlemen who represented the other states. " You have,*' 
said they, ^^ by your iniquitous laws and paper emissions 
shamefuify defrauded our citizens. The Confederation pre- 

1B4 DEBATES. [Bloodworth 

vented our compelling you to do them justice ; but before 
we confederate with you again, you must not only agree to 
be honest, but put it out of your power to be otherwise. '' 
Sir, a member from Rhode Island itself could not have set 
his face against such language. The clause was, I believe, 
unanimously assented to : it has only a future aspect, and 
can by no means have a retrospective operation ; and I 
trust the principles upon which the Convention proceeded 
will meet the approbation of every honest man. 

Mr. Cx\BARRUS. Mr. Chairman, 1 contend that the 
clause which prohibits the states from emitting bills of credit 
will not affect our present paper money. The clause has no 
retrospective view. This Constitution declares, in the most 
positive terms, that no ex post facto law shall he passed by 
the general government. Were this clause to operate ret- 
rospectively, it would clearly be ex post facto, and repugnant 
to the express provision of the Constitution. How, then, 
in the name of God, can the Constitution take our paper 
money away ? If we have contracted for a sum of money, 
we ought to pay according to the nature of our contract. 
Every honest man will pay in specie who engaged to pay it. 
But if we have contracted for a sum of paper money, 
it must be clear to every man in this committee, that we 
shall pay in paper money. This is a Constitution for the 
future government of the United States. It does not look 
back. Every gentleman must be satisfied, on the least 
reflection, that our paper money will not be destroyed. To 
^ay that it will be destroyed, is a popular argument, but not 
founded in fact, in my opinion. I had my doubts, but on 
consideration, I am satisfied. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH. Mr. Chairman, I beg leave to 
ask if the payment of sums now due be ex post facto. Will 
it be an ex post facto law to compel the payment of money 
now due in silver coin ? If suit be bruught in the federal 
court against one of our citizens, for a sum of money, will 
paper money be received to satisfy the judgment ? I inquire 
for information ; my mind is not yet satisfied. It has been 
said that we are to send our own gentlemen to represent us, 
and that there is not the least doubt they will put that con- 
struction on it which will be most agreeable to the people 
they represent. But it behoves us to consider whether they 
can do so if they would, when they mix with the body of 

Ukdell.] north CAROUNA. 1 86 

Congress. The Northern States are much more populous 
than the Southern ones. To the north of the Susquehannah 
there are thirty-six representatives, and to the south of it 
only twenty-nine. They will always outvote us. Sir, we 
ought to be particular in adopting a Constitution which may 
destroy our currency, when it is to be the supreme law of 
the land, and prohibits the emission of paper money. I am 
not, for my own part, for giving an indefinite power. Gen- 
tlemen of the best abilities differ in the construction of the 
Constitution. The members of Congress will differ too. 
Human nature is fallible. I am not for throwing ourselves 
out of the Union ; but we ought to be cautious by proposing 
amendments. The majority in several great adopting states 
was very trifling. Several of them have proposed amend- 
ments, but not in the mode most satisfactory to my mind. 
1 hope this Convention never will adopt it till the amend- 
ments are actually obtained. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, with respect to this 
clause, it cannot have the operation contended for. There 
is nothing in the Constitution which affects our present paper 
money. It prohibits, for the future, the emitting of any, 
Init it does not interfere with the paper money now actually 
in circulation in several states. There is an express clause 
which protects it. It provides that there shall be no ex post 
facto law. This would be ex post facto^ if the construction 
contended for were right, as has been observed by another 
gentleman. If a suit were brought against a man in the 
Inderal court, and execution should go against his property, 
I apprehend he would, under this Constitution, have a right 
10 pay our paper money, there being nothing in the Consti- 
tution taking away the validity of it. Every individual in 
the United otates will keep his eye watchfully over those 
who administer the general government, and no usurpation 
of power will be acquiesced in. The possibility of usurping 
powers ought not to be objected against it. Abuse may 
happen in any government. The only resource against 
usurpation is the inherent right of the people to prevent its 
exercise. This is the case in all free governments in the 
world. The people will resist if the government usurp 
powers not delegated to it. We must run the risk of abuse 
\Vf must take care to give no more power than is necessary 
VOL. IV. 24 

186 DEBATES. [Blood wcnm 

but, having given that, we must submit to the possible dan- 
gers arising from it. 

With respect to the great weight of the Northern States, 
it will not, on a candid examination, appear so great as the 
gentlenian supposes. At present, the regulation of our rep- 
resentation is merely temporary. Whether greater or less, 
it will hereafter depend on actual population. The extent 
of this state is very great, almost equal to that of any state 
in the Union ; and our population will probably be in pro- 
portion. To the north of Pennsylvania, there are twenty- 
seven votes. To the south of Pennsylvania, there are thirty 
votes, leaving Pennsylvania out. Pennsylvania has eight 
votes. In the division of what is called the northern and 
southern interests, Pennsylvania does not appear to be de- 
cidedly in either scale. Though there may be a combination 
of the Northern States, it is not certain that the interests of 
Pennsylvania will coincide with theirs. If, at any time, she 
join us, we shall have thirty-eight against twenty-seven. 
Should she be against us, they will have only thirty-five to 
thirty. There are two states to the northward, who have, 
in some respect, a similarity of interests with ourselves. 
What is the situation of New Jersey ? It is, in one respect, 
similar to ours. Most of the goods they use come through 
New York, and they pay for the benefit of New York, as we 
pay for that of Virginia. It is so with Connecticut ; so that, 
in every question between importing and non-importing 
states, we may expect that two of the Northern States 
would probably join with Norjth Carolina. It is impossible 
to destroy altogether this idea of separate interests. But 
the difference between the states does not appear to me so 
great as the gentleman imagines ; and I beg leave to say, 
that, in proportion to the increase of population, the South- 
ern States will have greater weight than the Northern, as 
they have such large quantities of land still uncultivated, 
which is not so much the case to the north. If we should 
suffer a small temporary inconvenience, we shall be com- 
pensated for it by having the weight of population in our 
favor in future. 

Mr. BLOODWORTH. Mr. Chairman, when I was in 
Congress, the southern and northern interests divided at 
Susquehannah. I believe it is so now. The advantage tc 
be gained by future population is no argument at all. Do 


we gain any thing when the other states havs an equauty of 
members in the Senate, notwithstanding the increase of 
members in the House of Representatives '^ This is no con- 
sequence at all. ' I am sorry to mention it, but I can produce 
an instance which will prove the facility of misconstruction. 
[Ilere Mr. Bloodworth cited an instance which took place in 
Congress with respect to the Indian trade, which, not having 
been distinctly heard, is omitted.] 

They may trample on the rights of the people of North 
Carolina if there be not sufficient guards and checks. I only 
mentioned this to show that there may be misconstructions, 
and that, in so important a case as a constitution, every thing 
ought to be clear and intelligible, and no ground left for dis- 

Mr. CALDWELL. Mr. Chairman, it is very evident 
that there is a great necessity for perspicuity. In the sweep- 
ing clause, there are words which are not plain and evident. 
It says that ** this Constitution, and the laws of the United 
States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, &c., shall 
be the supreme law of the land." The word pursiuince is 
equivocal and ambiguous ; a plainer word would be better. 
They may pursue bad as well as good measures, and there- 
fore the word is improper ; it authorizes bad measures. An- 
other thing is remarkable, — that gentlemen, as an answer 
to every improper part of it, tell us that every thing is to be 
done by our own representatives, who are to be good men. 
There is no security that they will be so, or continue to be 
so. Should they be virtuous when elected, the laws of Con- 
gress will be unalterable. These laws must be annihilated 
by the same body which made them. It appears to me that 
the laws which they make cannot be altered without calling 
a convention. [Mr. Caldwell added some reasons for this 
opinion, but spoke too low to be heard.] 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, I knew that many 
gentlemen in this Convention were not perfectly satisfied 
with every article of this Constitution ; but I did not expect 
that so many would object to this clause. The Constitution 
must be the supreme law of the land; otherwise, it would be 
Mi the power of any one state to counteract the other states, 
and withdraw itself from the Union. The laws made in 
pursuance thereof by Congress ought to be the supreme law 
of the land ; otherwise, any one state might repeal the law9. 


of the Union at large. Without this clause, the whole Con- 
stitution would be a piece of blank paper. Every treaty 
should be the supreme law of the land ; without this, any 
one state might involve the whole Union in war. The 
worthy member who was last up has started an objection 
which I cannot answer. I do not know a word in the Eng- 
lish language so good as the word pursuance, to express the 
idea meant and intended by the Constitution. Can any one 
understand the sentence any other way than this? When 
Congress makes a law in virtue of their constitutional 
authority, it will be an actual law. I do not know a more 
expressive or a belter way of representing the idea by words. 
Every law consistent with the Constitution will have been 
made in pursuance of the powers granted by it. Every 
usurpation or law repugnant to it cannot have been made in 
pursuance of its powers. The latter will be nugatory and 
void. I am at a loss to know what he means by saying the 
laws of the Union will be unalterable. Are laws as immuta- 
ble as constitutions? Can any thing be more absurd than 
assimilating the one to the other? The idea is not war 
ranted by the Constitution, nor consistent with reason. 

Mr. J. M'DOWALL wished to know how the taxes are 
to be paid which Congress were to lay in this state. He 
asked if paper money would discharge them. He calciilated 
that the taxes would be higher, and did not know how they 
could be discharged ; for, says he, every man is to pay so 
much more, and the poor man has not the money locked up 
in his chest. He was of opinion that our laws could be re- 
pealed entirely by those of Congress. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, taxes must be paid in 
gold or silver coin, and not in imaginary money. As to the 
subject of taxation, it has been the opinion of many intelli- 
gent men that there will be no taxes laid immediately, or, if 
any, that they will be very inconsiderable. There will be no 
occasion for it, as proper regulations will raise very large 
sums of money. We know that Congress will have sufficient 
power to make such regulations. The moment that the 
Constitution is established. Congress will have credit with 
foreign nations. Our situation being known, they can bor- 
row any sum. It will be better for them to raise any money 
the} want at p esent by borrowing than by taxation. It is 
well known tha in this country gold and silver vanish when 

Maclainb.] north CAROLINA. 189 

paper money is made. When we adopt, if ever, gold and 
silver will again appear in circulation. People will not let 
their hard money go, because they know that paper mon "v 
cannot repay it. After the war, we had more money in gold 
and silver, in circulation, than we have nominal money now. 
Suppose Congress wished to raise a million of money more 
than the imposts. Suppose they borrow it. -They can 
easily borrow it in Europe at four per cent. The interest 
of that sum will be but £40,000. So that the people, in- 
stead of having the whole £1,000,000 to pay, will have but 
£40,000 to pay, which will hardly be felt. The proportion 
of £40,000 for this state would be a trifle. In seven years' 
time, the people would be able, by only being obliged to pay 
the interest annually, to save money, and pay the whole 
principal, perhaps, afterwards, without much difficulty. 
Congress will not lay a single tax when it is not to the advan- 
tage of the people at large. The western lands will also be 
a considerable fund. The sale of them will aid the revenue 
greatly, and we have reason to believe the impost will be 

Mr. J. M'DOWALL. Mr. Chairman, instead of reasons 
and authorities to convince me, assertions are made. Many 
respectable gentlemen are satisfied that the taxes will be 
higher. By what authority does the gentleman say that the 
impost will be productive, when our trade is come to noth- 
ing? Sir, borrowing money is detrimental and ruinous to 
nations. The interest is lost money. We have been obliged 
to borrow money to pay interest ! We have no way of pay- 
ing additional and extraordinary sums. The people cannot 
stand them. I should be extremely sorry to live under a 
government which the people could not understand, and 
which it would require the greatest abilities to understand. 
It ought to be plain and easy to the meanest capacity. What 
would be the consequence of ambiguity ? It may raiwse an- 
imosity and revolutions, and involve us in bloodshed. It 
becomes us to be extremely cautious. 

Mr. MACLAINE. Mr. Chairman, 1 would ask the gen- 
tleman what is the state of our trade. I do not pretend to 
a very great knowledge in trade, but 1 know something of it. 
If our trade be in a low situation, it must be the effect of 
our present weak government. I really believe that Con- 
gress will be able to raise almost what sums they please by 


the impost. I know it will, though the gentleman may call 
it assertion. I am not unacquainted with the territory or 
resources of this country. The resources, under proper reg- 
ulations, are very great. In the course of a few years, we 
can raise money without borrowing a single shilling. It is 
not disgraceful to borrow money. The richest nations have 
recurred to loans on some emergencies. 1 believe, as much 
as 1 do in my existence, that Congress will have it in their 
power to borrow money if our government be such as people 
can depend upon. Ihey have been able to borrow now 
under the present feeble system. If so, can there be any 
doubt of their being able to do it under a respectable gov- 
ernment ? 

Mr. M'DOWALL replied, that our trade was on a con- 
temptible footing; that it was come almost to nothing, and 
lower in North Carolina than any where ; that therefore lit- 
tle could be expected from the impost. 

Mr. J. GALLOWAY. Mr. Chairman, I should make no 
objection to this clause were the powers granted by the Con- 
stitution sufficiently defined ; for I am clearly of opinion that 
it is absolutely necessary for every government, and especial- 
ly for a general government, that its laws should be the 
supreme law of the land. But I hope the gentlemen of the 
committee will advert to the 10th section of the 1st article. 
This is a negative which the Constitution of our own state 
does not impose upon us. I wish the committee to attend 
to that part of it which provides that no state shall pass 
any law which will impair the obligation of contracts. Our 
public securities are at a low ebb, and have been so for many 
years. We well know that this country has taken those se- 
curities as specie. This hangs over our heads as a con- 
tract. There is a million and a half in circulation at least. 
That clause of the Constitution may compel us to make 
good the nominal value of these securities. I trust this 
country never will leave it to the hands of the general gov- 
ernment to redeem the securities which they have already 
given. Should this be the case, the consequence will be, 
that they will be purchased by speculators, when the citizens 
will part with them, perhaps for a very trifling consideration. 
Thos? speculators will look at the Constitution, and see that 
they will be paid in gold and silver. They will buy them 
at a half-crown in the pound, and get the full nominal \^alue 

Abbot.J north CAROUNA. 191 

for them in gold and silver. I therefore wish the conamittee 
to consider whether North Carolina can redeem those secu- 
rities in the manner most agreeable to her citizens, and jus- 
tifiable to the world, if this Constitution be adopted. 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman, I believe neither the 10th 
section, cited by the gentleman, nor any other part of the 
Constitution, has vested the general government with power 
to interfere with the public securities of any state. I will 
venture to say that the last thing which the general govern- 
ment will attempt to do will be this. They have nothing 
to do with it. The clause refers merely to contracts between 
individuals. That section is the best in the Constitution. 
It is founded on the strongest principles of justice. It is a 
section, in short, which I thought would have endeared the 
Constitution to this country. When the worthy gentleman 
comes to consider, he will find that the general government 
cannot possibly interfere with such securities. How can it? 
It has no negative clause to that effect. Where is there a 
negative clause, operating negatively on the states them- 
selves ? It cannot operate retrospectively, for this would be 
repuofnant to its own express provisions. It will be left to 
ourselves to redeem them as we please. We wished we 
could put it on the shoulders of Congress, but could not. 
Securities may be higher, but never less. I conceive, sir, 
that this is a very plain case, and that it must appear per- 
fectly clear to the committee that the gentleman's alarms 
ax groundless. 

Wednesday, July 30, 178b. 

The last clause of the 6th article read. 

Mr. HENRY ABBOT, after a short exordium, which 
tvas not distinctly henrd, proceeded thus : Some are afraid. 
Air. Chairman, that, should the Constitution be received, 
they would be deprived of the privilege of worshipping God 
according; to their consciences, which would be taking from 
them a l)enefit they enjoy under the present constitution. 
They wish to know if their religious and civil lilierties be 
secured under this system, or whether the general govern- 
ment may not make laws infringing their religious liberties. 
The worthy member from Edenton mentioned sundry politi- 
cal reasons why treaties should be the supreme law of the 
land L is feared, by some people, that, by the power of 


making treaties, they might make a treaty engaging with 
foreign powers to adopt the Roman Catholic religion in the 
United Stales, which would prevent the people from wor- 
shipping God according to their own consciences. The 
worthy member from Halifax has in some measure satisfied 
my mind on this subject. But others may be dissatisfied. 
Many wish to know what religion shall be established. I 
believe a majority of the community are Presbyterians. 1 
am, for my part, against any exclusive establishment; but if 
there were any, I would prefer the Episcopal. The exclu- 
sion of religious tests is^ by many thought dangerous and 
impolitic. They suppose that if there be no religious test 
required, pagans, deists, and Mahometans might obtain offices 
among us, and that the senators and representatives might 
all be pagans. Every person employed by the general and 
state governments is to take an oath to support the former. 
Some are desirous to know how and by whom they are to 
swear, since no religious tests are required — whether they 
are to swear by Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Proserpine, or 
Pluto. We ought to be suspicious of our liberties. We 
have felt the effects of oppressive measures, and know the 
happy consequences of being jealous of our rights. I would 
be glad some gentleman would endeavor to obviate these ob- 
jections, in order to satisfy the religious part of the society. 
Could 1 be convinced that the objections were well founded, 
I would then declare my opinion against the Constitution. 
[Mr. Abl)ot added several other observations, but spoke too 
low to be heard.] 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, nothing is more desira- 
ble than to remove the scruples of any gentleman on this 
interesting subject. Those concerning religion are entitled 
to particular respect. I did not expect any objection to this 
particular regulation, which, in my opinion, is calculated to 
prevent evils of the most pernicious consequences to society. 
Every person in the least conversant in the history of man- 
kind, knows what dreadful mischiefs have been committed 
by religious persecutions. Under the color of religious tests, 
the utmost cruelties have been exercised. Those in power 
have generally considered all wisdom centred in themselves ; 
that they alone had a right to dictate to of mankind ; 
and that all opposition to their tenets was profane and im- 
pious. The consequence of this intolerant spirit had been, 


that each church has in turn set itself up against every other ; 
and persecutions and wars of the most imphicable and bloody 
nature have taken place in every part of the world. America 
has set an example to mankind to think more modestly and 
reasonably — that a man may be of different religious senti- 
ments from our own, \vithout being a bad member of society. 
The principles of toleration, to the honor of this age, are 
doing away those errors and prejudices which have so long 
prevailed, even in the most intolerant countries. In the Ro- 
man Catholic countries, principles of moderation are adopted 
which would have been spurned at a century or two ago. I 
should be sorry to find, when examples of toleration are set 
even by arbitrary governments, that this country, so im- 
pressed with the highest sense of lil)erty, should adopt prin- 
ciples on this subject thnt were narrow and illiberal. 

I consider the clause under consideration as one of the 
strongest proofs that could be adduced, that it was the inten- 
tion of those who formed this system to establish a general 
religious liberty in America. Were we to judge from the 
examples of religious tests in other countries, we should be 
persuaded that they do not answer the purpose for which 
they are intended. What is the consequence of such in 
England ? In that country no man can be a member in the 
House of Commons, or hold any office under the crown, 
without taking the sacrament according to the rites of the 
Church. This, in the first instance, must degrade and pro- 
fane a rite which never ought to be taken but from a sincere 
principle of devotion. To a man of base principles, it is 
made a mere instrument of civil policy. The intention was, 
to exclude all persons from offices but the meml>ers of the 
Church of England. Yet it is notorious that dissenters 
qualify themselves for offices in this manner, though they 
never conform to the Church on any other occasion ; and men 
of no religion at all have no scruple to make use of this quali- 
fication. It never was known thnt a man who had no prin- 
ciples of religion hesitated to perform apy rite when it was 
convenient for his private interest. No test can bind such 
a one. I am therefore clearly of opinion that such a dis- 
crimination would neither be effectual for its own purposes, 
nor, if it could, ought it by any means to be made. Upon 
the principles I have stated, I confess the restriction on the 
power of Congress, in this particular, has my hearty appro- 
VOL. IV. 26 17 

194 DEBATES. [Irbdbll 

bation. They certainly have no authority to interfere in the 
establishment of any religion whatsoever; and I am aston- 
ished that any gentleman should conceive they have. Is 
there any j)ovver given to Congress in matters of religion ? 
Can they pass a single act to impair our religious liberties ? 
If they could, it would be a just cause of alarm. If they 
could, sir, no man would have more horror against it than 
myself. Happily, no sect here is superior to another. As 
long as this is the case, we shall be free from those persecu- 
tions and distractions with which other countries have been 
torn. If any future Congress should pass an act concerning 
the religion of the country, it would be an act which they 
are not authorized to pass, by the Constitution, and which 
the people would not obey. Every one would ask, " Who 
authorized the government to pass such an act ? It is not 
warranted by the Constitution, and is barefaced usurpation." 
The power to make treaties can never be supposed to in- 
clude a right to establish a foreign religion among ourselves, 
though it might authorize a toleration of others. 

But it is objected that the people of America may, per- 
haps, choose representatives who have no religion at all, and 
that pagans and Mahometans may be admitted into offices. 
But how is it possible to exclude any set of men, without 
takinji: away that principle of religious freedom which w-e 
ourselves so warmly contend for ? This is the foundation 
on which persecution has been raised in every part of the 
world. The people in power were always right, and every 
body else wrong. If you admit the least difference, the 
door to persecution is opened. Nor would it answer the 
purpose, for the worst part of the excluded sects would com- 
ply with the test, and the best men only be kept out of our 
counsels. But it is never to be supposed that the people of 
America will trust their dearest rights to persons w^ho have 
no religion at all, or a religion materially different from their 
own. It would be happy for mankind if religion was per- 
mitted to take its own course, and maintain itself by the 
excellence of its own doctrines. The divine Author of our 
religion never wished for its support by worldly authority. 
Has he not said that the gates of hell shall not prevail 
against it ? It made much greater progress for itself, than 
when supported by the greatest authority upon earth. 

It has been asked by that respectable gentleman (Mi 


Abbot) what is the meaning of that part, where it is said 
that the United States shall guaranty to every state in the 
Union a republican form of government, and why a guar- 
anty of religious freedom was not included. The meaning 
of the guaranty provided w^as this : There being thirteen 
governments confederated upon a republican principle, it 
was essential to the existence and harmony of the confeder- 
acy that each should be a republican government, and that 
no state should have a right to establish an aristocracy or 
monarchy. That clause was therefore inserted to prevent 
any state from establishing any government but a republican 
one. Every one must be convinced of the mischief that 
would ensue, if any state had a right to change its govern- 
ment to a monarchy. If a monarchy was established in any 
one state, it would endeavor to subvert the freedom of the 
others, and would, probably, by degrees succeed in it. This 
must strike the mind of every person- here, who recollects 
the history of Greece, when she had confederated govern- 
ments. The king of Macedon, by his arts and intrigues, 
got himself admitted a member of the Amphictyonic council, 
which was the superintending government of the Grecian 
republics ; and in a short time he became master of them all. 
It is, then, necessary that the members of a confederacy 
should have similar governments. But consistently with 
this restriction, the states may make what change in their 
own governments they think proper. Had Congress under- 
taken to guaranty religious freedom, or any particular species 
of it, they would then have had a pretence to interfere in a 
subject they have nothing to do with. * Each state, so far as 
the clause in question does not interfere, must be left to the 
operation of its own principles. 

There is a degree of jealousy which it is impossible to 
satisfy. Jealousy in a free government ought to be res|)ect- 
ed ; but it may be carried to too great an extent. It is im- 
practicable to guard against all possible danger of people's 
choosing their officers indiscreetly. If they have a right to 
choose, they may make a bad choice. 

I met, by accident, with a pamphlet, this morning, in 
which the author states, as a very serious danger, that the 
pope of Rome might be elected President. I confess this 
never struck me before ; and if the author had read all the 
qualification*^ of a President, perhaps his fears might have 

196 DEBATES. [Irboeu. 

fbeen quteted. No man but a native, or who has resided four- 
teen years in America, can be chosen President. I know 
not all the qualifications for pope, but I believe he must be 
taken from the college of cardinals; and probably there are 
many previous steps necessary before he arrives at this dig- 
nity. A native of America must have very singular good 
fortune, who, after residing fourteen years in his own country, 
should go to Europe, enter into Romish orders, obtain the 
promotion of cardinal, afterwards that of pope, and at length 
be so much in the confidence of his own country as to be 
elected President. It would be still more extraordinary if 
he should give up his popedom for our presidency. Sir, it is 
impossible to treat such idle fears with any degree of gravity. 
Why is it not objected, that there is no provision in the Con- 
stitution against electing one of the kings of Europe Presi- 
dent? It would be a clause equally rational and judicious. 

I hope that I have, in some degree satisfied the doubts of 
the gentleman. This article is calculated to secure univer- 
sal religious liberty, by putting all sects on a level — the only 
way to prevent persecution. I thought nobody would have 
objected to this clause, which deserves, in my opinion, the 
highest approbation. This country/ has already had the 
honor of setting an example of civil freedom, and I trust it 
will likewise have the honor of teaching the rest of the world 
the way to religious freedom also. God grant both may be 
perpetuated to the end of time ! 

Mr. ABBOT, after expressing his obligations for the ex- 
planation which had been given, observed that no answer 
had been given to the question he put concerning the form 
of an oath. 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, I beg pardon for having 
omitted to take notice of that part which the worthy gentle- 
man has mentioned. It was by no means from design, but 
from its having escaped my memory, as I have not the con- 
veniency of taking notes. I shall now satisfy him in that 
particular in the best manner in my power. 

According to the modern definition of an oath, it is con- 
sidered a "solemn appeal to the Supreme Being, for the truth 
of what is said, by a person who believes in the existence of 
a Supreme Being and in a future state of rewards and pun- 
ishments, according to that form which will bind his con- 
science most." It was long held that no oath could be 


administered but upon the New Testament, except to a J-ew, 
who was allowed to swear upon the Old. According to this> 
notion, none but Jews and Christians could take an oath ; 
and heathens were altogether excluded. At length, by the 
operation of principles of toleration, these narrow notions 
were done away. Men at length considered that there were 
many virtuous men in the world who had not had an oppor- 
tunity of being instructed either in the Old or New Testa- 
ment, who yet very sincerely believed in a Supreme Being, 
and in a future state of rewards and punishments. It is well 
known that many nations entertain this belief who do not 
believe either in the Jewish or Christian religion. Indeed, 
there are few people so grossly ignorant or barlmrous as to 
have no religion at all. And if none but Christians or Jews 
could be examined upon oath, many innocent persons might 
suffer for want of the testimony of others. In regard to the 
form of an oath, that ought to be governed by the religion 
of the person taking it. 1 remember to have read an instance 
which happened in England, I believe in the time of Charles 
11. A man who was a material witness in a cause, refused 
to swear upon the book, and was admitted to swear with his 
uplifted hand. The jury had a difficulty in crediting him; 
but the chief justice told them, he had, in his opinion, taken 
as strong an oath as any of the other witnesses, though, had 
he been to swear himself, he should have kissed the book. 
A very remarkable instance also happened in England, about 
forty years ago, of a person who was admitted to take an 
oath according to the rites of his own country, though he was 
a heathen. He was an East Indian, who had a great suit in 
chancery, and his answer upon oath to a bill filed against 
him was absolutely necessary. Not believing either in the 
Old or New Testament, he could not be sworn in the accus- 
tomed manner, but was sworn according to the form of the 
Gentoo religion, which he professed, by touching the foot of 
a priest. It appeared that, according to the tenets of this 
religion, its members believed in a Supreme Being, and in a 
future stite of rewards and punishments. It was accord- 
ingly held by the judges, upon great consideration, that the 
oath ought to be received ; they considering that it was 
probable those of that religion were equally bound in con- 
science by an oath according to their form of swearing, as 
they themselves were by one of theirs ; and that it would be 

I J8 DEBATES. IJohmatok 

a repioach to the justice of the country, if a man, merely be- 
cause he was of a different religion from their own, should 
be denied redress of an injury he had sustained. Ever since 
this great case, it has been universally considered that, in 
administering an oath, it is only necessary to inquire if the 
person who is to take it, believes in a Supreme Being, 
and in a future state of rewards and punishments. If he 
does, the oath is to be administered according to that form 
which it is supposed will bind his conscience most. It is, 
however, necessary that such a belief should be entertained, 
because otherwise there would be nothing to bind his con- 
science that could be relied on ; since there are many cases 
where the terror of punishment in this world for perjury could 
not be dreaded. I have endeavored to satisfy the committee. 
We may, I think, very safely leave religion to itself; and as 
to the form of the oath, 1 think this may well be trusted to 
the general government, to be applied on the principles 1 
have mentioned. 

Gov. JOHNSTON expressed great astonishment that the 
people were alarmed on the subject of religion. This, he 
said, must have arisen from the great pains which had been 
taken to prejudice men's minds against the Constitution. 
He begged leave to add the following few observations to 
what had l)een so ably said by the gentleman last up. 

I read the Constitution over and over, but could not see 
one cause of apprehension or jealousy on this subject. 
When I heard there were apprehensions that the pope of 
Rome could be the President of the United States, I was 
greatly astonished. It might as well be said that the king 
of England or France, or the Grand Turk, could be chosen 
to that office. It would have been as good an argument. 
It appears to me that it would have been dangerous, if Con- 
gress could intermeddle with the subject of religion. True 
religion is derived from a much higher source than human 
laws. When any attempt is made, by any government, to 
restrain men's consciences, no good consequence can pos- 
sibly follow. It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans, 
pagans, &c., may be elected to high offices under the gov- 
ernment of the United States. Those who are Mahom- 
etans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian 
religion, can never be elected to the office of President, or 
other high office, but in one of two cases. First, if thp 

Caldweix.] north CAROLINA. liJ& 

people of America lay aside the Christian religion allogetliei, 
it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the 
people will choose such men as think as they do themselves. 
Another case is, if any persons of such descriptions should, 
notwithstanding their religion, acquire the confidence and 
esteem of the people of America by their good conduct and 
practice of virtue, they may be chosen. I leave it to gen- 
tlemen's candor to judge what probability there is of the 
people's choosing men of different sentiments from them- 

But great apprehensions have been raised as to the influ- 
ence of the East(irn States. When you attend to circum- 
stances, this will have no weight. I know but two or three^ 
states where there is the least chance of establishing any 
particular religion. The people of Massachusetts and Con- 
necticut are mostly Presbyterians. In every other state, the 
people are divided into a great number of sects. In Rhode 
Island, the tenets bf the Baptists, I believe, prevail. In 
New York, they are divided very much : the most numerous 
are the Episcopalians and the Baptists. In New Jersey, 
they are as much divided as we are. In Pennsylvania, if 
any sect prevails more than others, it is that of the Quakers. 
In Maryland, the Episcopalians are most numerous, though 
there are other sects. In Virginia, there are many sects; 
you all know what their religious sentiments are. So in all 
the Southern States they differ ; as also in New Hampshire. 
I hope, therefore, that jrenilemen will see there is no cause 
of fear that any one religion shall be exclusively established. 

Mr. CALDWELL thought that some danger might arise. 
He imagined it might be objected to in a political as well as 
in a religious view. In the first place, he said, there was an 
invitation for Jews and pagans of every kind to come among 
Us. At some future period, said he, this might endanger 
the character of the United States. Moreover, even those 
who do not regard religion, acknowledge that the Christian 
religion is best calculated, of all religions, to make good 
members of society, on account of its morality. I think, 
then, added he, that, in a political view, those jjentlemen who 
formed this Constitution should not have given this invi- 
tation to Jews and heathens. All those who have any reli- 
gion are against the emigration of those people from the 
eastern hemisphere. 



Mr SPENCER was an advocate for securing every nn- 
alienable right, and that of worshipping God according to 
the dictates of conscience in particular. He therefore thought 
that no one particular religion should be established. Reli- 
gious tests, said he, have been the foundation of persecutions 
in all countries. Persons who are conscientious will not take 
the oath required by religious tests, and will therefore be ex- 
cluded from offices, though equally capable of discharging 
them as any member of the society. It is feared, continued 
he, that persons of bad principles, deists, atheists, &c., may 
come into this country; and there is nothing to restrain them 
from being eligible to offices. He asked if it was reasonable 
to suppose that the people would choose men without re- 
garding their characters. Mr. Spencer then continued thus: 
Gentlemen urge that the want of a test admits the most 
vicious characters to offices. V desire to know what test 
could bind them. If they were of such principles, it would 
not keep them from enjoying those offices. On the oth^r 
hand, it would exclude from offices conscientious and truly 
religious people, thoui^h equally capable as others. Consci- 
entious persons would not take such an oath, and would be 
therefore excluded. This would be a great cause of objec- 
tion to a religious test. But in this case, as there is not a 
rfijigious test required, it leaves religion on the solid foun- 
dation of its own inherent validity, without an}' connection 
with temporal authority ; and no kind of oppression can take 
place. I confess it strikes me so. I am sorry to differ from 
the worthy gentleman. I cannot object to this part of the 
Constitution. I wish every other part was as good and 

Gov. JOHNSTON approved of the worthy member's 
candor. He admitted a possibility of Jews, pagans, &c., 
emigrating to the United States ; yet, he said, they could 
not be in proportion to the emigration of Christians who 
should come from other countries ; that, in all probability, 
tne children even of such people would be Christians ; and 
that this, with the rapid population of the United States, 
their zeal for religion, and love of liberty, would, he trtisted^ 
add to the progress of the Christian religion among us. 

The 7th article read without any objection against it. 

Gov. JOHNSTON, after a short speech, which was not 
distinctly heard, made a motion to the following effect • — 

Lewoir.] north CAROLINA. 201 

That this committee, having fully deliberated on the Constitution pro- 
posed for the future government of the United States of America, by the 
Federal Convention lately held at Philadelphia, on the 17th day of Sep- 
tember lasit, and having taken into their serious consideration the present 
critical situation of America, which induces them to be of opinion, thai 
though certain amendments to the said Constitution may be wished for, 
yet that those amendments should be proposed subsequent to the ratiBca 
tion on the part of this state, and not previous to it, — they therefore rec- 
ommend that the Convention do ratify the Constitution, and at the same 
time propose amendments, to take place in one of the modes prescribed 
by the Constitution. 

Mr. LENOIR. Mr. Chairman, I conceive that I shall 
not be out of order to make some observations on this last 
part of the system, and take some retrospective view of some 
other parts of it. I think it not proper for our adoption, as I 
consider that it endatigers our liberties. When we consider 
this system collectively, we must be surprised to think that 
any set of men, who were delegated to amend the Confed- 
eration, should proj)ose to annihilate it; for that and this sys- 
tem are utterly different, and cannot exist together. It has 
been said that the fullest confidence should be put in those 
characters who formed this Constitution. We will admit 
them, in private and public transactions, to be good charac- 
ters. But, sir, it appears to me, and every other member of 
this committee, that they exceeded their powers. Those 
gentlemen had no sort of power to form a new constitution 
altogether ; neither had the citizens of this country such an 
idea in their view. I cannot undertake to say what princi- 
ples actuated them. I must conceive they were mistaken in 
their (}olitics, and that this system does not secure the un- 
alienable rights of freemen. It has some aristocratical and 
some monarchical features, and perhaps some of them in- 
tended the establishment of one of these governments. 
Whatever might be their intent, according to my views, it 
will lead to the most dangerous aristocracy that ever was 
thought of — an aristocracy established on a constitutional 
l)ottom ! I conceive (and I believe most of this committee 
will like>%ise) that this is so dangerous, that I should like as 
well to have no constitution at all. Their powers are almost 

A constitution ought to be understood by every one. The 
most humble and trifling characters in the country have 
a right to know what foundation they stand upon. I con- 
fess I do not see the end of the powers here proposed, noi 
VOL. IV. 26 

DEBATES [Lenoir 

Dns for granting them. The principal end of a con- 
^.a*uiion is to set forth what must be givfen up for the com- 
muniiy at large, and to secure those rio^hts which ought never 
to be infringed. The proposed plan secures no right ; or, if 
it does, it is in so vague and undeterminate a manner, that 
we do not understand it. My constituents instructed me to 
oppose the adoption of this Constitution. The principal 
reasons are as follow: The right of representation is not 
fairly and explicitly preserved to the people, it being easy 
to evade that j)rivilege as provided in this system, and 
the terms of election being too long. If our General Assem- 
bly be corrupt, at the end of the year we can make new men 
of them by sending others in their stead. It is not so here. 
If there be any reason to think that human nature is corrupt, 
and that there is a disposition in men to aspire to power, 
they may embrace an opportunity, during their long continu- 
ance in office, by means of their powers, to take away the 
rights of the people. The senators are chosen for six years, 
and two thirds of them, with the President, have most ex- 
tensive powers. They may enter into a dangerous combina 
tion. And they may be continually reelected. The Presi- 
dent may be as good a man as any in existence, but he is 
but a nian. He may be corrupt. He has an opportunity of 
forming plans dangerous to the community at large. I shall 
not enter into the minutiee of this system, but I conceive, 
whatever may have been the intention of its framers, that it 
leads to a most dans^erous aristocracy. It appears to me 
that, instead of securing the sovereignty of the states, it is cal- 
culated to melt them down into one solid empire. If the citi- 
zens of this state like a consolidated government, 1 hope they 
will have virtue enough to secure their rights. I am sorry 
to make use of the expression, but it appears to me to be a 
scheme to reduce this government to an aristocracy. It 
guaranties a republican form of government to the states ; 
when all these powers are in Congress, it will only be a form. 
It will be past recovery, when Congress has the power of 
the purse and the sword. The power of the sword is in ex- 
plicit terms given to it. The power of direct taxation gives 
the purse. They may prohibit the trial by jury, which is a 
most sacred and valuable right. There is nothing contained 
in this Constitution to bar them from it. The federal courts 
have also appellate cognizance of law and fact; the sole 


^^ause of which is to deprive the people of that trial, which it 
^.s optional in them to grant or not. We find no provision 
Against infringement on the rights of conscience. Ecclesias- 
tical courts may be established, which will be destructive to 
our citizens. They may make any establishment they think 
proper. They have also an exclusive legislation in their 
ten miles square, to which may be added their power over 
the militia, who may be carried thither and kept there for 
life. Should any one grumble at their acts, he would be 
deemed a traitor, and perhaps taken up and carried to the 
exclusive legislation, and there tried without a jury. We 
are told there is no cause to fear. When we consider the 
great powers of Congress, there is great cause of alarm. 
They can disarm the militia. If they were armed, they 
would be a resource against great oppressions. The laws 
of a great empire are difficult to be executed. If the laws 
of the Union were oppressive, they could not carry them into 
effect, if the people were possessed of proper means of de- 

It was cried out that we were in a most desperate situa- 
tion, and that Congress could not discharge any of their 
most sacred contracts. I believe it to be the case. But 
why give more power than is necessary ? The men who 
went to the Federal Convention went for the express pur- 
pose of amending the government, by giving it such addi- 
tional powers as were necessary. If we should accede to 
this system, it may be thought proper, by a few designing 
persons, to destroy it, in a future age, in the same manner 
that the old system is laid aside. The Confederation was 
binding on all the states. It could not be destroyed but 
with the consent of all the states. There was an express 
article to that purpose. The men w^ho were deputed to the 
Convention, instead of amending the old, as they were solely 
empowered and directed to do, proposed a new system. If 
the best characters departed so far from their authority, what 
may not be apprehended from others, who may be agents in 
the new government ? 

It is natural for men to aspire to power — it is the nature 
of mankind to be tyrannical ; therefore it is necessary for 
us to secure our rights and liberties as far as we can. But 
it is asked why we should suspect men who are to be chosen 
by ourselves, while it is their interest to act justly, and while 


204 DEBATES. [LBNom 

men have self-interest at heart. 1 think the reasons which 
I havt given are sufficient to answer that question. We 
ought to consider the depravity of human nature, the pre- 
dominant thirst of power which is in the breast of every 
one, tlie temptations our rulers may have, and the unlimited 
confidence phiced in them by this system. These are the 
foundation of my fears. They would be so long in the gen- 
eral government that they would forget the grievances of 
the people of the states. 

But it is said we shall be ruined if separated from the 
other states, which will be the case if we do not adopt. If 
so, I would put less confidence in those states. The states 
are all bound together by the Confederation, and the rest 
cannot break from us without violating the most solemn 
compact. If they break that, they will this. 

But it is urged that we ought to adopt, because so many 
other states have. In those states which have patronized 
and ratified it, many great men have opposed it. The mo- 
tives of those states I know not. It is the goodness of the 
Constitution we are to examine. We are to exercise our 
own judgments, and act independently. And as I conceive 
we are not out of the Union, I hope this Constitution will 
not be adopted till amendments are made. Amendments 
are wished for by the other states. It was urged here that the 
President should have power to grant reprieves and pardons. 
This power is necessary with proper restrictions. But the 
President may be at the head of a combination against the 
rights of the people, and may reprieve or pardon the whole. 
It is answered to this, that he cannot pardon in cases of 
impeachment. What is the punishment in such cases ? 
Only removal from office and future disqualification. It 
does not touch life or property. He has power to do away 
punishment in every other case. It is too unlimited, in my 
opinion. It may be exercised to the public good, but may 
also be perverted to a different purpose. Should we get 
those who will attend to our interest, we should be safe 
under any Constitution, or without any. If we send men 
of a different dis|>ositioh, we shc^ll be in danger. Let us 
give them only such powers as are necessary for the good of 
the community. 

The President has other great powers. He has the nom« 
ination of all officers, and a qualified negative on the laws 

/-.ifMoia.] • NORTH CAROUNA. 20/T 

e may delay the wheels of government. He may drive 
he Senate to concur with his proposal. He has other ex- 
ensive powers. There is no assurance of the liberty of the 
ess. They may make it treason to write against the most 
rbitrary proceedings. They have power to control our elec- 
tions as much as they please. It may be very oppressive on 
^his state, and all the Southern States. 

Much has been said of taxation, and the inequality of it 
on the states. But nothing has been said of the mode of 
furnishing men. In what proportion are the states to furnish 
men ? Is it in proportion to the whites and blacks ? I pre- 
sume it is. This stdte has one hundred thousand blacks. 
By this Constitution, fifty negroes are equal to thirty whites. 
This state, therefore, besides the proportion she must raise 
for her white people, must furnish an additional number for 
her blacks, in proportion as thirty is to fifty. Suppose there 
be a state to the northward that has sixty thousand persons ; 
this state must furnish as many men for the blacks as that 
whole state, exclusive of those she must furnish for hei 
whites. Sl:ives, instead of strengthening, weaken the state , 
the regulation, therefore, will greatly injure it, and the other 
Southern States. There is another clause which I do not, 
perhaps, understand. The power of taxation seems to me 
not to extend to the lands of the people of the United 
States ; for the rule of taxation is the number of the whites 
and three fifths of the blacks. Should it be the case that 
they have no power of taxing this object, must not direct 
taxation be hard upon the greater part of this state ? I am 
not confident that it is so, but it appears to me that they 
Cannot lay taxes on this object. This will oppress the poor 
people who have large families of whites, and no slaves to 
Assist them in cultivating the soil, although the taxes are to 
be laid in proportion to three fifths of the negroes, and all 
the whites. Another disadvantage to this state will arise 
from it. This state has made a contract with its citizens. 
The public securities and certificates I allude to. These 
may be negotiated to men who live in other states. Should 
that be the case, these gentlemen will have demands against 
this state on that account. The Constitution points out the 
mode of recovery ; it must be in the federal court only, be- 
cause controversies between a state and the citizens of 
another state are cognizable only in the federal couns. 

• 18 

2106 DEBATES. [Spaight. 

They cannot be paid but in gold and silver. Actual spe- 
cie will be recovered in that court. This would be an in- 
tolerable grievance without remedy. 

I wish not to be so understood as to be so averse to this 
system, as that I should object to all parts of it, or attempt 
to reflect on the reputation of those gentlemen who formed 
it ; though it appears to me that I would not have agreed to 
any proposal but the amendment of the Confederation. If 
there were any security for the liberty of the people, I would, 
for my own part, agree to it. But in this case, as millions 
yet unborn are concerned, and deeply interested in our de- 
cision, I would have the most positive and pointed security. 
I shall therefore hope that, before this house will proceed to 
adopt this Constitution, they will propose such amendments 
to it as will make it complete ; and when amendments are 
adopted, perhaps I will be as ready to accede to it as any 
man. One thing will make it aristocratical. Its powers are 
very indefinite. There was a very necessary clause in the 
Confederation, which is omitted in this system. That was 
a clause declaring that every power, &c., not given to Con- 
gress, was reserved to the states. The omission of this 
clause makes the power so much greater. Men will natu- 
rally put the fullest construction on the power given them. 
Therefore lay all restraint on them, and form a plan to be 
understood by every gentleman of this committee, and every 
individual of the communitv. 

Mr. SPAIGHT. Mr. Chairman, I am one of those who 
formed this Constitution. The gentleman says, we exceeded 
our powers. I deny the charge. We were sent with a full 
power to amend the existing system. This involved every 
power to make every alteration necessary to meliorate and 
render it perfect. It cannot be said that we arrogated 
powers altogether inconsistent with the object of our dele- 
gation. There is a clause which expressly provides for 
future amendments, and it is still in your power. What the 
Convention has done is a mere proposal. It was found im- 
possible to improve the old system without changing its very 
form ; for by that system the three great branches of govern- 
ment are blended together. All will agree that the conces- 
sion of a power to a government so constructed is danger- 
ous. The proposing a new system, to be established by the 
assent and ratification of nine states, arose from the neces- 


^iiy of the case. It was thought extremely hard that one 
state, or even three or four states, should be able to prevent 
necessary alterations. The very refractory conduct of Rhode 
Island, in uniformly opposing every wise and judicious 
measure, taught us how impolitic it would be to put thi^ 
general welfare in the power of a few members of the Union. 
It was, therefore, thought by the Convention, that, if so 
great a majority as nine states should adopt it, it would be 
right to establish it. It was recommended by Congress to 
the state legislatures to refer it to the people of their differ- 
ent states. Our Assembly has confirmed what they have 
done, by proposing it to the consideration of the people. It 
was there, and not here, that the objection should have been 
made. This Convention is therefore to consider the Consti- 
tution, and whether it be proper for the government of the 
people of America ; and had it been proposed by any one 
individual, under these circumstances, it would be right to 
consider whether it be good or bad. The gentleman has in- 
sinuated that this Constitution, instead of securing our liber- 
ties, is a scheme to enslave us. He has produced no proof, 
but rests it on his bare assertion — an assertion which I am 
astonished to hear, after the ability with which every objec- 
tion has been fully and clearly refuted in the course of our 
debates. I am, for my part, conscious of having had noth- 
ing in view but the liberty and happiness of my country ; and 
1 believe every member of that Convention was actuated by 
motives equally sincere and patriotic. 

He says that it will tend to aristocracy. Where is the 
aristocratical part of it ? It is ideal. I always thought that 
an aristocracy was that government where the few governed 
the many, or where the rulers were hereditary.. This is a 
very different government from that. I never read of such 
an aristocracy. The first branch are representatives chosen 
freely by the people at large. This must be allowed upon 
all hands to be democratical. The next is the Senate, chosen 
by the people, in a secondary manner, through the medium 
of their delegates in the legislature. This cannot be aristo- 
cratical. They are chosen for six years, but one third of 
them go out every second year, and are responsible to the 
state legislatures. The President is elected for four years. 
Bv whom ? By those who are elected in such manntT as 
the state legislatures think proper. I hope the gentleman 

?08 REBATES. [Spaight. 

Will not pretend to call this an aristocratical feature. The 
privilege of representation is secured in the most |X)sitive and 
unequivocal terms, and cannot be evaded. The gentleman 
has again brought on the trial by jury. The Federal Con- 
vention, sir, had no wish to destroy the trial by jury. It 
was three or four days before them. There were a variety 
of objections to any one mode. It was thought impossible 
to fall upon any one mode but what would produce some in- 
conveniences. I cannot now recollect all the reasons given. 
Most of them have been amply detailed by other gentlemen 
here. I should suppose that, if the representatives of twelve 
states, with many able lawyers among them, could not form 
any unexceptionable mode, this Convention could hardly be 
able to do it. As to the subject of religion, I thought what 
had been said would fully satisfy that gentleman and every 
other. No power is given to the general government to in- 
terfere with it at all. Any act of Congress on this subject 
would be a usurpation. 

No sect is preferred to another. Every man has a right 
to worship the Supreme Being in the manner he thinks 
proper. No test is required. AH men of equal capacity and 
integrity, are equally eligible to offices. Temporal violence 
might make mankind wicked, but never religious. A test 
would enable the prevailing sect to persecute the rest. I do 
not suppose an infidel, or any such person, will ever be 
chosen to any office, unless the people themselves be of the 
same opinion. He says that Congress may establish eccle- 
siastical courts. I do not know what part of the Constitu- 
tion warrants that assertion. It is impossible. No such 
power is given them. The gentleman advises such amend- 
ments as would satisfy him, and proposes a mode of amend- 
ing before ratifying. If we do not adopt first, we are no 
more a part of the Union than any foreign power. It will 
be also throwing away the influence of our state to propose 
amendments as the condition of our ratification. If we 
adopt first, our representatives will have a proportionable 
weight in bringing al)out amendments, which will not be the 
case if we do not adopt. It is adopted by ten states already. 
The question, then, is, not whether the Constitution be good, 
but whether we will or will not confederate with the other 
states. The gentleman supposes that the liberty of the press 
is not secured. The Constitution does not take it away. 


It says noth'mg of it, and can do nothing to injure it. Bux 
ii is secured by the constitution of every state in the Union 
in the most ample manner. 

He objects to giving the government exclusive legislation 
in a district not exceeding ten miles square, although the 
previous consent and cession of the state within which it 
may be, is required. Is it to be supposed that the represent- 
atives of the people will make regulations therein dangerous 
to liberty ? Is there the least color or pretext for saying: that 
the militia will be carried and kept there for life ? Where 
is there any power to do this? The power of calling forth 
the militia is given for the common defence ; and can we 
suppose that our own representatives, chosen for so short a 
period, will dare to pervert a power, given for the general 
protection, to an absolute oppression ? But the gentleman 
has gone farther, and says, that any man who will complain 
of their oppressions, or write against their usurpation, may 
he deemed a traitor, and tried as such in the ten miles square, 
without a jury. What an astonishing misrepresentation ! 
Why did not the gentleman look at the Constitution, and 
see their powers ? Treason is there defined. It says, ex- 
pressly, that treason against the United States shall consist 
only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their 
enemies, giving them aid and comfort. Complaining, there- 
fore, or writing, cannot be treason. [Here Mr.Lenoir rose, 
and said he meant misprision of treason.] The same rea- 
sons hold against that too. The liberty of the press being 
secured, creates an additional security. Persons accused 
cannot be tried without a jury ; for the same article provides 
that **the trial of all crimes shall be by jury." They cannot 
be carried to the ten miles square ; for the same clause adds, 
*' and such trial shall be held in the state where the said 
crimes shall have been committed." He has made another 
objection, that land might not be taxed, and the other taxes 
might fall heavily on the j>oor people. Congress has a 
power to lay taxes, and no article is exempted or excluded. 
The proportion of each state may be raised in the most con- 
venient manner. The census or enumeration provided is 
meant for the salvation and benefit of the Southern States.. 
It was mentioned that land ought to be the only object of 
taxation. As an acre of land in the Northern States is worth 
many acres in the Southern States, this would have greatly 
VOL. IV. 27 

210 DEBATES. [M'DowALi. 

oppressed the latter. It was then judged that the number 
of people, as therein provided, was the best criterion for fix- 
ing the proportion of each state, and that proportion in each 
state to be raised in the most easy manner for the people. 
But he has started another objection, which I never heard 
before — that Congress may call for men in proportion to the 
number of negroes. The article with respect to requisitions 
of men is entirely done away. Men are to be raised by 
bounty. Suppose it had not been done away. The Eastern 
States could not impose oh us a man for every black. It 
was not the case during the war, nor ever could be. But the 
quotas of men are entirely done away. 

Another objection which he makes is, that the federal 
courts will have cognizance of contracts between this state 
and citizens of another state; and that public securities, 
negotiated by our citizens to those of other states, will be 
recoverable in specie in those courts against this state. 
They cannot be negotiated. What do these certificates say ? 
Merely that the person therein named shall, for a particular 
service, receive so much money. They are not negotiable. 
The money must be demanded for them in the name of those 
therein mentioned. No other person has a right. There 
can be no danger, therefore, in this respect. The gentle- 
man has made several other objections ; but they have been 
so fully answered and clearly refuted by several gentlemen in 
the course of the debates, that I shall pass them by unnoticed. 
I cannot, however, conclude without observing that I am 
amazed he should call the powers of the general government 
indefinite. It is the first time I heard the objection. I will 
venture to say they are better defined than the powers of 
any government he ever heard of. 

Mr. J. M'DOWALL. Mr. Chairman, I was in hopes 
that amendments would have been brought forward to the 
Constitution before the idea of adopting it had been thought 
of or proposed. From the best information, there is a great 
pro}X)rtion of the people in the adopting states averse to it as 
it stands. I collect my information from respectable author- 
ity. I know the necessity of a federal government. I there- 
fore wish this was one in which our liberties and privileges 
were secured ; for I consider the Union as the rock of our 
political salvation. I am for the strongest federal govern- 
ment. A bill of rights ought to have been inserted, to ascer- 
tain our most valuable and unalienable rights. 


The 1st clause of the 4th section gives the Congress an 
Unlimited power over elections. This matter was not cleared 
Xip to my satisfaction. They have full power to alter it from 
one time of the year to another, so as that it shall be impos- 
sible for the people to attend. They may fix the time in 
winter, and the place at Edenton, when the weather will be* 
so bad that the people cannot attend. The state govern- 
ments will be mere boards of election. The clause of elec- 
tions gives the Congress power over the time and manner 
of choosing the Senate. I wish to know why reservation 
was made of the place of choosing senators, and not also 
of electing representatives. It points to the time when the 
states shall be all consolidated into one empire. IVial by 
jury is not secured. The objections against this want of 
security have not been cleared up in a satisfactory manner. 
It is neither secured in civil nor criminal cases. The federal 
appellate cognizance of law and fact puts it in the power of 
the wealthy to recover unjustly of the poor man, who is not 
able to attend at such extreme distance, and bear such enor- 
mous expense as it must produce. It ought ^o be limited so 
as to prevent such oppressions. 

I say the trial by jury is not sufficiently secured in crim- 
inal cases. The very intention of the trial by jury is, that 
the accused may be tried by persons who come from the 
vicinage or neighborhood, who may be acquainted with his 
character. The substance, therefore, of this privilege is 
taken away. 

By the power of taxation, every article capable of being 
taxed may be so heavily taxed that the people cannot bear 
the taxes necessary to be raised for the support of their state 
governments. Whatever law we may make, may be re- 
pealed by their laws. All these things, with others, tend to 
make us one general empire. Such a government cannot 
be well regulated. When we are connected with the North- 
ern States, who have a majority in their favor, laws may l)e 
made which will answer their convenience, but will be 
oppressive to the last degree upon the Southern States. They 
differ in climate, soil, customs, manners, &c. A large ma- 
jority of the people of this country are against this Constitu- 
tion, l)ecause they think it replete with dangerous defects. 
They ought to be satisfied with it before it is adopted ; oth- 
erwise it cannot operate happily. Without the affections of 

212 DEBATES. [L4vcA8Tim. 

the pcfiple, it will not have sufficient energy. To enforce 
its execution, recourse must be bad to arms and bloodshed. 
How much better would it be if the peo[de were satisfied 
with it ! From all these considerations, I now rise to oppose 
its adoption ; for I never will agree to a government that 
tends to the destruction of the liberty of the people. 

Mr. WILSON wished that the Constitution had excluded 
Popish priests from offices. As there was no test required, 
and nothing to govern them but honor, he said that when 
their interest clashed with their honor, the latter would fly 
before the former. 

Mr. LANCASTER. Mr. Chairman, it is of the utmost 
importance to decide this great question with candor and 
deliberation. Every part of this Constitution has been elu- 
cidated. It hath been asserted, by several worthy gentlemen, 
that it is the most excellent Constitution that ever was formed. 
I could wish to be of that opinion if it were so. The powers 
vested therein were very extensive. I am apprehensive that 
the power of taxation is unlimited. It expressly says that 
Congress shall have the power to lay taxes, &c. It is obvi- 
ous to me that the power is unlx>unded, and I am apprehen* 
sive that they may lay taxes too heavily on our lands, in 
order to render them more productive. The amount of the 
taxes may be more than our lands will sell for. It is obvious 
that the lands in the Northern States, which gentlemen sup- 
pose to be more populous than this country, are more valu- 
able and better cultivated than ours ; yet their lands will be 
taxed no higher than our lands. A rich man there, from 
report, does not possess so large a body of land as a poor 
man to the southward. If so, a common poor man here 
will have much more to pay for poor land, than the rich man 
there for land of the best quality. This power, being neces- 
sarily unequal and oppressive, ought not to be given up. I 
shall endeavor to be as concise as possible. We find that 
the ratification of nine states shall be sufficient for its estab- 
lishment between the states so ratifying the same. This, as 
has been already taken notice of, is a violation of the Con- 
federation. We find that, by that system, no alteration was 
to take place, except it was ratified by every state in the 
Union. Now, by comparing this last article of the Consti- 
tution to that part of the Confederation, we find a most fla- 
grant violation. The Articles of Confederation were sent 

Xawca§tb«,] north CAROLINA. 2 IS 

out ivith all solemnity on so solemn an occasion, and werb 
to be always binding on the states ; but, to our astonish- 
ment, we see that nine states may do away the force of the 
whole. I think, without exaggeration, that it will be looked 
upon, by foreign nations, as. a serious and alarming change. 

How do we know that, if we propose amendments, they 
shall be obtained after actual ratification P May not these 
amendments be proposed with equal propriety, and more 
safety, as the condition of our adoption ? If they violate 
the 13th article of the Confederation in this manner, may 
they not, with equal propriety, refuse to adopt amendments, 
although agreed to and wished for by two thirds of the 
states r This violation of the old system is a precedent for 
such proceedings as these. That would be a violation 
destructive to our felicity. We are now determining a 
question deeply affecting the happiness of millions yet un- 
born. It is the policy of freemen to guard their privileges. 
Let us, then, as far as we can, exclude the possibility of 
tyranny. The President is chosen for four years ; the sen- 
ators for six years. Where is our remedy for the most 
flagrant abuses? It is thought that North Carolina is to 
have an opportunity of choosing one third of their senatorial 
members, and all their representatives, once in two years. 
This would be the case as to senators, if they should be of 
the first class ; but, at any rate, it is to be after six years. 
But if they deviate from their duty, they cannot be excluded 
and changed the first year, as the members of Congress can 
now by the Confederation. How can it be said to be safe 
to trust so much power in the hands of such men, who are 
not responsible or amenable for misconduct ? 

As it has been the policy of every state in the Union to 
guard elections, we ought to be more punctual in this case. 
The members of Congress now may be recalled. But in this 
Constitution they cannot be recalled. The continuance of 
the President and Senate is too long. It will be objected, 
by some gentlenfen, that, if they are good, why not continue 
them ? But I would ask, How are we to find out whether 
they be good or bad ? The individuals who assented to any 
bad law are not easily discriminated from others. They 
will, if individually inquired of, deny that they gave it their 
approbation ; and it is in their power to conceal their trans- 
actions as long as they please. 

2}'% DEBATES. [Lancastkb. 

Th/*.re is also the President's conditional negative on the 
taws. After a bill is presented to him, and he disapproves 
of it, it is to be sent back to that house where it originated, 
for their consideration. Let us consider the effects of this 
for a few moments. Suppose \J originates in the Senate, 
and passes there by a large majority ; suppose it passes in 
the House of Representatives unanimously; it must be trans- 
mitted to the President. If he objects, it is sent back to 
the Senate ; if two thirds do not agree to it in the Senate, 
what is the conseijuence ? Does the House of Representa 
tives ever hear of it afterwards ? No, it drops, because it 
must be passed by two thirds of both houses ; and as only 
a majority of the Senate agreed to it, it cannot become a 
law. This is giving a power to the President to over- 
rule fifteen members of the Senate and every member of the 
House of Representatives. These are my objections. I 
look upon it to be unsafe to drag each other from the most 
remote parts in the state to the Supreme Federal Court, 
which has appellate jurisdiction of causes arising under the 
Constitution, and of controversies between citizensof different 
stales. I grant, if it be a contract between a citizen of 
Virginia and a citizen of North Carolina, the suit must be 
brought here ; but may they not appeal to the Supreme 
Court, which has cognizance of law and fact? They may 
be carried to Philadelphia. They ought to have limited the 
sum on which appeals should lie. They may appeal on a 
suit for only ten pounds. Such a trifling sum as this would 
be paid by a man who thought he did not owe it, rather 
than go such a distance. It would be prudence in him so 
to do. This would be very oppressive. 

I doubt my own judgment; experience has taught me to 
be diffident ; but I hope to be excused and put right if I be 

The power of raising armies is also very exceptionable. I 
am not well acquainted with the government of other coun- 
tries, but a man of any information knows that the king of 
Great Britain cannot raise and support armies. He may 
call for and raise men, but he has no money to support them. 
But Congress is to have power to raise and support armies. 
Forty thousand men from North Carolina could not be re- 
fused without violating the Constitution. I wish amend- 
ments to these parts. I agree it is not our business to 

Lancaster.! NORTH CAROLINA. 215 

inquire whether the continent be invaded or not. The 
general legislature ought to superintend the care of this 
Treaties are to be the supreme law of the land. This has 
been sufficiently discussed : it must be amended some way 
or other. If the Constitution be adopted, it ought to be 
the supreme law of the land, and a perpetual rule for 
the governors and governed. But if treaties are to be the 
supreme law of the land, it may repeal the laws of different 
states, and render nugatory our bill of rights. 

As to a religious test, had the article which excludes it 
provided none but what had been in the states heretofore, 
I would not have objected to it. It would secure rehgion. 
Religious liberty ought to be provided for. I acquiesce with 
the gentleman, who spoke, on this point, my sentiments 
better than I could have done myself. For my part, in re- 
viewing the qualifications necessary for a President, I did 
not suppose that the pope could occupy the President's chair. 
But let us remember that we form a government for millions 
not yet in existence. I have not the art of divination. In 
the course of four or five hundred years, I do not know how 
it will work. This is most certain, that Papists may occu- 
py that chair, and Mahometans may take it. I see nothing 
against it. There is a disqualification, I believe, in every 
state in the Union — it ought to be so in this system. It is 
said that all power not given is retained. I find they 
thought proper to insert negative clauses in the Constitu- 
tion, restraining the general government from the exercise 
of certain powers. These were unnecessary if the doctrine 
be true, that every thing not given is retained. From the 
insertion of these we may conclude the doctrine to be falla- 
cious. Mr. Lancaster then observed, that he would disap- 
prove of the Constitution as it then stood. His own feel- 
ings, and his duty to his constituents, induced him to do so 
Some j)eople, he said, thought a delegate might act inde- 
pendently of the people. He thought otherwise, and that 
every delegate was bound by their instructions, and if he 
did any thing repugnant to their wishes, he betrayed his 
trust. He thought himself bound by the voice of the peo- 
ple, whatever other gentlemen might think. He would 
cheerfully agree to adopt, if he thought it would be of gen- 
eral utility ; but as he thought it would have a contrary 
effect, and as he believed a great majority of the peopltj 
were against it, he would oppose its adoption. 

216 DEDfATES. [Johnston. 

Mr. WILLIE JONES was against ratifying in the man 
ner proposed. He had attended, he said, with patience to 
the debates of the speakers on both sides of the question. 
One party said the Constitution was all perfection. The 
other party said it wanted a great deal of perfection. For 
bis part, he thought so. He treated the dangers which were 
held forth in case of non-adoption, as merely ideal and fan- 
ciful. After adding other remarks, he moved that the pre- 
vious question might be put, with an intention, as he said, 
if that was carried, to introduce a resolution which he had 
in his hand, and which he was then willing to read if gen- 
tlemen thought proper, stipulating for certain amendments 
to be made previous to the adoption by this state. 

Gov. JOHNSTON begged gentlemen to recollect that' 
the proposed amendments could not be laid before the other 
states unless we adopted and became part of the Union. 

Mr. TAYLOR wished that the previous question might 
be put, as it would save much time. He feared the motion 
first made was a manoeuvre or contrivance to impose a con- 
stitution on the people which a majority disapproved of. 

Mr. IREDELL wished the previous shoula be withdrawn, 
and that they might debate the first question. The great 
importance of the subject, and the respectability of the gen- 
tleman who made the motion, claimed more deference and 
attention than to decide it in the very moment it was in- 
troduced, by getting rid of it by the previous question. A 
decision was now presented in a new form by a gentleman 
of great influence in the house, and gentlemen ought to 
have time to consider before they voted precipitately upon it 

A desultory conversation now arose. Mr. J. GALLO- 
WAY wished the question to be postponed till to-morrow 

Mr. J. M'DOWALL was for immediately putting the 
question. Several gentlemen expatiated on the evident ne- 
cessity of amendments. 

Gov. JOHNSTON declared that he disdained all ma- 
noeuvres and contrivance ; that an intention of imposing an 
improper system on the people, contrary to their wishes, was 
unworthy of any man. He wished the motion to be fairly 
and fully argued and investigated. He observed that the 
very motion before them proposed amendments to be made : 
that they were proposed as they had been in other states 


^e wished, therefore, that the motion for the previous ques- 
tion should be withdrawn. 

Mr. WILLIE JONES could not withdraw his motion. 
Gentlemen's arguments, he said, had been listened to at- 
tentively, but he believed no person had changed his opin- 
ion. It was unnecessary, then, to argue it again. His 
motion was not conclusive. He only wished to know what 
ground they stood on — whether they should ratify it un- 
conditionally or not. 

Mr. SPENCER wished to hear the arguments and rea- 
sons for and against the motion. Although he was con- 
vinced the house wanted amendments, and that all had 
nearly determined the question in their own minds, he was 
for hearing the question argued, and had no objection to the 
postponement of it till to-morrow. 

Mr. IREDELL urged the great importance of considera- 
tion ; that the consequence of the previous question, if car- 
ried, would be an exclusion of this state out of the Union. 
He contended that the house had no right to make a condi- 
tional ratification ; and, if excluded from the Union, they 
could not be assured of an easy admission at a future day, 
though the impossibility of existin^!: out of the Union must be 
obvious to every thinking man. The gentleman from Hali- 
fax had said that his motion would not be conclusive. For 
his part, he was certain it would be tantamount to immediate 
decision. He tmsted gentlemen would consider the pro- 
priety of debating the first motion at large. 

Mr. PERSON observed, that the previous question would 
produce no inconvenience. The other party, he said, had 
all the debating to themselves, and would probably have it 
again, if they insisted on further argument. He saw no pro- 
priety in putting it off till to-morrow, as it was not customary 
ibr a committee to adjourn with two questions before them. 

Mr. SHEPHERD declared that, though he had made up 
his mind, and believed other gentlemen had done so, yet he 
had no objection to giving gentlemen an opportunity of dis- 
playing their abilities, and convincing the rest of their error 
if they could. He was for putting it off till to-morrow. 

Mr. DAVIE took notice that the gentleman from Gran 
ville had frequently u^ed ungenerous insinuations, and had 
taken much pains out of doors to irritate the minds of his 
countrymen against the Constitution. He called upon gen- 
VOL IV. 28 19 

'2 1 8 DEBATES. [Iredeli. 

ileraen to act openly and above.board, adding that a contrary 
corduct, on this occasion, was extremely despicable. He 
came thither, he said, for the common cause of his country, 
and he knew no party, but wished the business to be con- 
ducted with candor and moderation. The previous question 
he thought irregular, and that it ought not to be put till the 
other question was called for ; that it was evidently in- 
tended to preclude all further debate, and to precipitate the 
committee upon the resolution which it had been suggested 
was immediately to follow, which they were not then ready 
to enter upon ; that he had not fully considered the conse- 
quences of a conditional ratification, but at present they ap- 
peared to him alarmingly dangerous, and perhaps equal to 
those of an absolute rejection. 

Mr. WILLIE JONES observed, that he had not intended 
to take the house by surprise ; that, though he had his mo- 
tion ready, and had heard of the motion which was intended 
for ratification, he waited till that motion should be made, 
and had afterwards waited for some time, in expectation that 
:he gentleman from Halifax, and the gentleman from Eden- 
ton, would both speak to it. He had no objection to ad- 
journing, but his motion would be still before the house. 

Here there was a great cry for the question. 

Mr. IREDELL. [The cry for the question still con 
tinuiug.J Mr. Chairman, I desire to be heard, notwith 
standing the cry of "The question! the question!" Gen 
tiemen have no right to prevent any member from speaking 
to it, if he thinks fit. [The house subsided into order.] Un- 
important as 1 may be myself, my constituents are as respect- 
able as those of any member in the house. It has, indeed, 
sir, been my misfortune to be under the necessity of trou- 
bling the house much oftener than I wished, owing to a cir- 
cumstance which 1 have greatly regretted — that so few gen- 
tlemen take a share in our debates, though many are capable 
of doing so with propriety. I should have spoken to the 
question at large before, if I had not ftilly depended on some 
other gentleman doing it; and therefore 1 did not prepare 
myself by taking notes of what was said. However, I beg 
leave now to make a few observations. I think this Consti- 
tution safe. I have not heard a single objection which, in 
my opinion, showed that it was dangerous. Some particu- 
lar parts have been objected to, and amendments pointed out. 


Though I think it perfectly safe, yet, with re.spect to aiiv 
ameudments which do not destroy the substance of the Con- 
stitution, but will tend to give greater satisfaction, I should 
approve of them, because I should prefer that system whicli 
would most tend to conciliate all parties. On these princi 
pies, I am of opinion that some amendments should i)e 

The general ground of the objections seems to be, that the 
power proposed to the general government may be abused 
If we give no power but such as may not be abused, we 
shall give none ; for all delegated powers may be abused. 
There are two extremes equally dangerous to liberty. These 
are tyranny and anarchy. The medium between these two 
is the true government to protect the people. In my opinion, 
this Constitution is well calculated to guard against both 
these extremes. The possibility of general abuses ought not 
to be urged, but particular ones pointed out. A gentleman 
who spoke some time ago (Mr. Lenoir) observed, that the 
government might make it treason to write against the most 
arbitrary proceedings. He corrected himself afterwards, by 
saying he meant misprision of treason. But in the correction 
he committed as great a mistake as he did at first. Where 
is the power given to them to do this ? They have power 
to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the 
high seas, and offences against the law of nations. They 
have no power to define any other crime whatever. This 
will show how apt gentlemen are to commit mistakes. I am 
convinced, on the part of the worthy member, it was not de- 
signed, but arose merely from inattention. 

Mr. LENOIR arose, and declared, that he meant that 
those punishments might be inflicted by them within the 
ten miles square, where they would have exclusive powers 
of legislation. 

Mr. IREDELL continued : They are to have exclusive 
power of legislation, — but how ? Wherever they may 
have this district, they must possess it from the authority of 
the state within which it lies ; and that state may stipulate 
the conditions of the cession. Will not such state take care 
of the liberties of its own people ? What would be the 
consequence if the seat of the government of the United 
States, with all the archives of America, was in the power 
of any one particular state ? Would not this be most un- 

220 DEBATES [Iredbll 

safe and humiliating ? Do we not all remember that, in the 
year 1783, a band of soldiers went and insulted Congress ? 
The sovereignty of the United States was treated with in- 
dignity. They applied for protection to the state they re- 
sided in, but could obtain none. It is to be hoped such a 
disgraceful scene will never happen again ; but that, for the 
future, the national government will be able to protect 
itself. The powers of the government are particularly 
enumerated and defined : they can claim no others but such 
as are so enumerated. In my opinion, they are excluded as 
much from the exercise of any other authority as they could 
be by the strongest negative clause that could be framed. 
A gentleman has asked. What would be the consequence if 
they had the power of the purse and sword? I ask. In 
what government under heaven are these not given up to 
some authority or other ? There is a necessity of giving 
both the purse and the sword to every government, or else it 
cannot protect the people. 

But have we not sufficient security that those powers 
shall not he abused ? The immediate power of the purse is 
in the immediate representatives of the people, chosen every 
two years, who can lay no tax on their constituents but what 
they are subject to at the same time themselves. The 
power of taxation must be vested somewhere. Do the com- 
mittee wish it to be as it has been ? Then they must suffer 
the evils which they have done. Requisitions will be of no 
avail. No money will be collected but by means of military 
force. Under the new government, taxes will probably be 
much lighter than they can be under our present one. The 
impost will afford vast advantages, and greatly relieve the 
people from direct taxation. In time of peace, it is sup- 
posed by many, the imposts may be alone sufficient; but in 
the time of war, it cannot be ex[)ected they will. Our ex- 
penses would be much greater, and our ports might be 
blocked up by the enemy's fleet. Think, then, of the ad- 
vantiig;e of a national government possessed of energy and 
credit. Could government borrow money to any advantage 
without the power of taxation ? If they could secure funds, 
and wanted immediately, for instance, £100,000, they 
might borrow this sum, and immediately raise only money to 
pay the mterest of it. If they could not, the £100,000 
must be instantly raised, however d stressing to the people, 


or our country perhaps overrun by the enemy. Do not gei^- 
tlemen see an immense difference between the two case? ^ 
It is said that there ought to be jealousy in mankind. } 
admit it as far as is consistent with prudence ; but unlimitt J 
jealousy is very pernicious. 

We must be contented if powers be as well guarded « i 
the nature of them will permit. In regard to amendin ^ 
before or after the adoption, the difference is very great. \ 
beg leave to state my idea of that difference. I mentione ^ 
one day before, the adoption by ten states. When I did s •, 
it was not to influence any person with respect to the meri $ 
o{ the Constitution, but as a reason for coohiess and deli» • 
eration. In my opinion, when so great a majority of tl e 
American people have adopted it, it is a strong evidence v^ 
its favor; for it is not probable that ten states would ha*^e 
agreed to a bad constitution. If we do not adopt, we 9 e 
no longer in the Union with the other states. We ought o 
oonsider seriously before we determine our connection w h 
t-hem. The safety and happiness of this state depend up ax 
it. Without that union, what would have been our condit> m 
»iow ? A striking instance will point out this very clear y. 
-At the beginning of the late war with Great Britain, the F ur- 
liament thought proper to stop all commercial intercou se 
^%vith the American provinces. They passed a general prohib- 
itory act, from which New York and North Carolina were at 
Crst excepted. Why were they excepted ? They had b<«n 
^LS active in opposition as the other states ; but this was an 
expedient to divide the Northern from the Middle States, and 
to break the heart of the Southern. Had New York and 
^orth Carolina been weak enough to fall into this snare we 
)robably should not now have been an independent people. 
Mr. Person called to order, and intimated that the gen- 
tleman meant to reflect on the opposers of the Constitution, 
as if they were friendly to the British interest. Mr. Ire- 
dell warmly resented the interruption, declaring he was 
perfectly in order, that it was disorderly to interrupt him ; 
and, in respect to Mr. Person's insinuation as to his in- 
tention, he declared, in the most solemn manner, he had 
no such, being well assured the opposers of the Constitution 
were equally friendly to the independence of America as its 
supporters. He then proceeded :] 
I say, they endeavored to divide us. North Carolina and 

222 DEBATES. [Iredeix. 


New York had too much sense to be taken in by their arti- 
fices. Union enabled us then to defeat their endeavors: 
union will enable us to defeat all the machinations of our 
enemies hereafter. The friends of their country must lament 
our present unhappy divisions. Most free countries have lost 
their liberties by means of dissensions among themselves. 
They united in war and danger. When peace and apparent 
security came, they split into factions and parties, and thereby 
became a prey to foreign invaders. This shows the neces- 
sity of union. In urging the danger of disunion so strongly, 
I beg leave again to say, that I mean not to reflect on any 
gentleman whatsoever, as if his wishes were directed to so 
wicked a purpose. I am sure such an insinuation as the gen- 
tleman from Granville supposed I intended, would be unjust, 
as I know some of the warmest opposers of Great Britain 
are now among the warmest opponents of the proposed Con- 
stitution. Such a suggestion never entered my head ; and 1 
can say with truth that, warmly as I am attached to this 
Constitution, and though I am convinced that the salvation 
of our country depends upon the adoption of it, I would not 
procure its succ(*ss by one unworthy action or one ungen- 
erous word. A gentleman has said that we ought to deter 
mine in the same manner as if no state had adopted the 
Constitution. The general principle is right ; but we ought 
to consider our peculiar situation. We cannot exist by our- 
selves. If we imitate the examples of some respectable 
states that have proposed amendments subsequent to their 
ratification, we shall add our weight to have these amend- 
ments carried, as our representatives will be in Congress to 
enforce them. Gentlemen entertain a jealousy of the East- 
ern States. To withdraw ourselves from the Southern 
States will be increasing the northern influence. The loss 
of one state may be attended with particular prejudice. It 
will be a good while before amendments of any kind can 
take place; and in the mean time, if we do not adopt, we 
shall have no share or agency in their transactions, though 
we may be ultimately bound by them. The first session of 
Congress will probably be the most important of any for 
many years. A general code of laws will then be estab- 
lished in execution of every power contained in the Consti- 
tution. If we ratify, and propose amendments, our repre- 
sentatives will be there to act in this important business. If 

Johnston.] NORTH CAROLINA. 223 

we do not, our interest may suffer ; nor will the system be 
afterwards altered merely to accommodate our wishes. Be- 
sides that, one house may prevent a measure from taking 
place, but boih must concur in repealing it. I therefore 
think an adoption proposing subsequent amendments far 
safer and more desirable than the other mode ; nor do I 
doubt that every amendment, not of a local nature, nor 
injuring essentially the material power of the Constitution, 
but principally calculated to guard against misconstruction 
the real liberties of the people, will be readily obtained. 

The previous question, after some desultory conversation, 
was now put: for it, 183; agiiinst it, 84; majority in favor 
of the motion, 99. 

Thursday, Juli/ 31, 1788. 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, it appears to me that, 
if the motion made yesterday, by the gentleman from Hali- 
fax, be adopted, it will not answer the intention of the 
people. It determines nothing with respect to the Consti- 
tution. We were sent here to determine upon it. [Here 
his excellency read the resolution of the Assembly under 
which the Convention met.] If we do not decide upon the 
Constitution, we shall have nothing to report to Congress. 
We shall be entirely out of the Union, and stand by our- 
selves. I wish gentlemen would pause a moment before 
they decide so awful a question. To whom are we to refer 
these amendments which are to be proposed as the condition 
of our adoption ? The present Congress have nothing to do 
with them. Their authority extends only to introduce the 
new government, not to receive any proposition of amend- 
ments. Shall we present them to the new Congress ? In 
what manner can that be done ? We shall have no repre- 
sentatives to introduce them. We may indeed appoint 
ambassadors to the United States of America, to represent 
what scruples North Carolina has in regard to their Consti- 
tution. I know no other way. A number of states have 
proposed amendments to the Constitution, and ratified in 
the mean time. These will have great weight and influence 
in Congress, and may prevail in getting material amend- 
ments proposed. We shall have no share in voting upon 
any of these amendments ; for, in my humble opinion, we 
shall be entirely out of the Union, and can be considered 

224 DEBATES. [Johnston 

only as a foreign power. It is true, the United States may 
admit us hereafter. But they may admit us on terms un- 
equal and disadvantageous to us. In the mean time, many 
of their laws, by which we shall be hereafter bound, may be 
particularly injurious to the interests of this state, as we 
shall have no share in their formation. Gentlemen say they 
will not be influenced by what others have done. I must 
confess that the. example of great and good men, and wise 
states, has great weight with me. 

It is said there is a probability New York will not adopt 
this Constitution. Perhaps she may not. But it is gen- 
erally supposed that the principal reason of her opposing it 
arises from a selfish motive. She has it now in her power 
to tax indirectly two contiguous states. Connecticut and 
New Jersey contribute to pay a great part of the taxes of 
that state, by consuming large quantities of goods, the duties 
of which are now levied for the benefit of New York only. 
A similar policy may induce the United States to lay restric- 
tions on us, if we are out of the Union. These considera- 
tions ought to have great weight with us. We can derive 
very little assistance from any thing New York will do on 
our behalf. Her views are diametrically opposite to ours. 
That state wants all her imposts for her own exclusive 
support. It is our interest that all imposts should go into 
the general treasury. Should Congress receive our com- 
missioners, it will be a considerable time before this business 
will be decided on. It will be some time after Congress 
meets before a convention is appointed, and some time will 
elapse before the convention meets. What they will do, 
will be transmitted to each of the states, and then a conven- 
tion, or the legislature, in each state, will have to ratify it 
ultimately. This will probal)ly take up ei^ihteen months or 
two years. In the mean time, the national government is 
going on. Congress will ap[)oint all the great officers, and 
will proceed to make laws and form regulations for the 
future government of the United States. This state, during 
that time, will have no share in their proceedings, or any 
negative on any business before them. Another incon- 
venience which will arise is this: we shall be deprived of 
the benefit of the impost, which, under the new government, 
is an additional fund ; all the states having a common right 
to it. By being in the Union we should have a right to our 

Jones.] NORTH CAROLINA. 22t} 

proportionate share of all the duties and imposts collected in 
all the stales, l^ut by adopting this resolution, we shall 
lose the benefit of this, which is an object worthy of atten- 
tion. Upon the whole, I can see no possible good that will 
result to this state from following the resolution before us. 
1 have not the vanity to think that any reasons I offer will 
have any weight. But I came from a respectable county 
to give my reasons for or against the Constitution. They 
expect them from me, and to suppress them would be a 
violation of my duty. 

Mr. WILLIE JONES. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman 
last up has mentioned the resolution of Congress now lyin{» 
before us, and the act of Assembly under which we mei 
here, which says that we should deliberate and determine oii 
the Constitution. What is to be inferred from that ? Aro 
we to ratify it at all events ? Have we not an equal right 
to reject ? We do not determine by neither rejecting noi 
adopting. It is objected we shall be out of the Union. Si> 
I wish to be. We are left at liberty to come in at any time 
It is said we shall suffer a g^reat loss for want of a share of 
the impost. I have no doubt we shall have it when we come 
in, as much as if we adopted now. I have a resolution in 
my pocket, which I intend to introduce if this resolution is 
carried, recommending it to the legislature to lay an im- 
post, for the use of Congress, on goods imported into this 
state, similar to that which may be laid by Congress 
on goods imported into the adopting states. This shows 
the committee what is my intention, and on what foot- 
ing we are to be. This being the case, I will forfeit my 
life that we shall come in for a share. It is said that all the 
offices of Congress will be filled, and we shall have no share 
in appointing the officers. This is an objection of very little 
importance. Gentlemen need not be in such haste. If left 
eighteen months or two years without offices, it is no great 
cause of alarm. The gentleman further said that we could 
send no representatives, but must send ambassadors to Con- 
gross, as a foreign power. I assert the contrary ; and that, 
whenever a convention of the states is called, North Caro- 
lina will be called upon like the rest. I do not know what 
these gentlemen would desire. 

I am very sensible that there is a great majority against 
the Constitution. If we take the question as they propose 
VOL. IV. 29 


they kuow it would l)e rejected, and bring on us all the 
dreadful conse<|uence$ which they feelingly foretell, bat 
wliich can never in the least alarm me. I have endeavored 
to fall in with their opinions, but could not. We have a 
right, in plain terms, to refuse it if we think proper. I have, 
in my proposition, adopted, word for word, the Virginia 
amendments, with one or two additional ones. We run no 
risk of being excluded from the Union when we think proper 
to come in. Virginia, our next neighbor, will not oppose 
our admission. We have a common cause with her. She 
wishes the same alterations. We are of the greatest imj)or- 
tance to her. She will have great weight in Congress ; and 
there is no doubt but she will do every thing she can to bring 
us into the Union. South Carolina and Georgia are deeply 
interested in our being admitted. The Creek nation would 
overturn these two states without our aid. They cannot 
exist without North Carolina. There is no doubt we shall 
obtain our amendments, and come into the Union when we 
please. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and other states, 
have proposed amendments. New York will do also, if she 
ratifies. There will be a majority of the states, and the 
most respectal)le, im[)ortant, and extensive states also, desi- 
rous of amendments, and favorable to our admission. 

As great names have been mentioned, I beg leave to men- 
tion the authority of Mr. Jefferson, whose great abilities and 
respectability are well known. When the Convention sat 
in Richmond, in Virginia, Mr. Madison received a letter from 
him. In that letter he said he wished nine states would 
adopt it, not because it deserved ratification, but to preserve 
the Union. But he wished that the other four states would 
reject it, that there might be a certainty of obtaining amend- 
ments. Congress may go on, and take no notice of our 
amendments; but I am confident they will do nothing of 
importance till a convention be called. If I recollect rightly, 
amendments may be ratified either by conventions or the 
legislatures of the states. In either case, it may take up 
about eighteen months. For my part, I would rather be 
eighteen years out of the Union than adopt it in its present 
defective form. 

Gov. JOHNSTON. Mr. Chairman, I wish to clear my- 
self from the imputation of the gentleman last up. If any 
part of my conduct warrants his aspersion, — if ever I hunted 

SlPBiccm.] NORTH CARXH^INA. 227 

after offices, or sought public favors to promote private inter-' 
est, — let the instances be pointed out. If I know mjse}i 
I never did. It is easy for any man to throw out ilHbera# 
and ungenerous insinuations. I have no view to offices unde 
this Constitution. My views are much humbler. When f 
spoke of Congress establishing offices, 1 meant great offices, 
the establishment of which might affect the interests of the 
states ; and I added that they would proceed to make lawsr, 
deeply affecting us, without any influence of our own. A% 
to the appointment of the officers, it is of no importance W 
me who is an officer, if he be a good man. 

Mr. JONES replied, that in every publication one might 
see ill motives assigned to the opposers of the Constitutiott*^ 
One reason assigned for their opposition was, that they feareA 
the loss of their influence, and diminution of their importance.* 
He Sdid, that it was fair its opposers should be permitted to 
retort, and assign a reason equally selfish for the conduct of 
its friends* Expectation to offices might influence them, asr 
well as the loss of office and influence miglu bias the others. 
He intended no allusion to that gentleman, for whom he de- 
clared he had the highest respect. 

Mr. SPENCER rose in support of the motion of the gen- 
tleman from Halifax. He premised, that he wished no res>- 
olution to be carried without the utmost deliberation and 
candor. He thought the proposition was couched in such 
modest terms as could not possiblj' give offence to the other 
states ; that the amendments it proposed were to be laid be- 
fore Congress, and would probably be admitted, as they 
were similar to those which were wished for and proposecl 
by sever^tl of the adopting states. He always thought it 
more proper, and agreeable to prudence, to propose amend*- 
ments previous, rather than subsequent, to ratification. He 
said thnt, if two or more persons entered into a copartnership, 
and employed a scrivener to draw up the articles of copart- 
nership in a particular form, and, on reading them, they found 
them to be erroneous, — it would be thought very strange 
if any of them should say, "Sign it first, and we shall have 
it altered hereafter." If it should be signed befiore altera^ 
tion, it would be considered as an act of indiscretion. Asv 
therefore, it was a principle of prudence, in matters of prU 
rate property, not to assent to any obligation till its errors: 
were removed, he thought the principle infinitely more neces* 

2id DEBATES. [Ibedell 

sarj to be at) ended to in a matter which concerned such a 
number of people, and so many millions yet unborn. Gen- 
tlemen said they should be out of the Union. He observed, 
that they were before confederated with the other states by 
^ solemn compact, which was not to be dissolved without 
the consent of every state in the Union. North Carolina 
had not assented to its dissolution. * If it was dissolved, it 
was not their fault, but that of the adopting states. It was 
a maxim of law that the same solemnities were neces- 
sary to destroy, which were necessary to create, a deed 
or contract. He was of opinion that, if they should 
be out of the Union by proposing previous amendments, 
they were as much so now. If the adoption by nine 
states enabled them to exclude the other four states, he 
thought North Carolina might then be considered as excluded 
But he did not think that doctrine well founded. On the 
contrary, he thought each state might come into the Union 
when she thought proper. He confessed it gave him some 
concern, but he looked on the short exclusion of eighteen 
months — if it might be called exclusion — as infinitely less 
dangerous than an unconditional adoption. He expected 
the amendments would be adopted, and when they were, 
this state was ready to embrace it. No great inconvenience 
could result from this. . [Mr. Spencer made some other re- 
marks, but spoke too low to be heard.] 

Mr. IREDELL. Mr. Chairman, in my opinion, this is a 
very awful moment. On a right decision of this question 
may possibly depend the peace and happiness of our country 
for ages. Whatever be the decision of the house on this sub- 
ject, it ought to be well weighed before it is given. We 
ought to view our situation in all its consequences, and deter- 
mine with the utmost caution and deliberation. It has l)een 
suggested, not only out of doors, but during the course of the 
debates, that, if we are out of the Union, it will be the fault 
of other states, and not ours. It is true that, by the Articles 
of Confederation, the consent of each state was necessary 
for any alteration. It is also true that the consent of nine 
states renders the Constitution binding on them. The un- 
happy consequences of that unfortimate article in this Con- 
federation produced the necessity of this article in the Con- 
stitution. Every body knows that, through the peculiar 
obstinacy of Rhode Island, many great advantages were lost 


Notwithsiandiiig her weakness, she uniformly opposed everv 
regulation for the benefit and honor of the Union at large. 
The other states were driven to the necessity of providing 
for their own security and welfare, without waiting for the 
consent of that little state. The deputies from twelve states 
unanimously concurred in opinion that the happiness of all 
America ought not to be sacrificed to the caprice and obsti- 
nacy of so inconsiderable a part. 

It will often happen, in the course of human affairs, that 
the policy which is proper on common occasions fails, and 
that laws which do very well in the regular administration 
of a government cannot stand when every thing is going 
into confusion. In such a case, the safety of the community 
must supersede every other consideration, and every subsist- 
ing regulation which interferes with that must be departed 
from, rather than that the people should be ruined. The 
Convention, therefore, with a degree of manliness which 1 
admire, dispensed with a unanimous consent for the pres- 
ent change, and at the same time provided a permanent 
remedy for this evil, not barely by dispensing with the con- 
sent of one member in future alterations, but by making the 
consent of nine sufficient for the whole, if the rest did not 
agree, considering that the consent of so large a number 
ought in reason to govern the whole ; and the proportion 
was taken from the old Confederation, which in the most 
important cases required the consent of nine, and in every 
thing, except the alteration of the Constitution, made that 
number sufficient. It has been objected, that the adoption 
of this government would be improper, because it would in- 
terfere with the oath of allegiance to the state. No oath 
of allegiance requires us to sacrifice the safety of our coun- 
try. When the British government attempted to establish 
a tyranny in America, the people did not think their oath 
of allegiance bound them to submit to it. I had taken 
that oath several times myself, but had no scruple to oppose 
their tyrannical measures. The great principle is. The safe- 
ty of the people is the supreme law. Government was ori- 
ginally instituted for their welfare, and whatever may be its 
form, this ought to be its object. This is the fundamental 
principle on which our government is founded. In othei 
countries, the}' suppose the existence of original compact, 

and infer that, if the sovereign violates his part of it, the 



people have a right to resist. If he does not, the goven* 
Hient must remain unchaiiginl, unless the sovereign conseaU 
to ao alteration. In America, our governments have been 
clearlj created by the people tliemselves. The same ao- 
Chority that created can destroy ; and the people may un- 
doubtedly change the government, not because it is ill ex* 
ercised, but because they conceive another form will be more 
conducive to their welfare. I have stated the reasons (at 
departing from the rigid article in the Confederation requir- 
ing a unanimous consent. We were compelled to do this, 
or see our country ruined. In the manner of the dispensa- 
tbn, the Convention, however, appear to have acted with 
great prudence, in copying the example of the Confedera- 
tion in all other particulars of the greatest moment, hw 
authorizing nine states to bind' the whole. It is suggested, 
indeed, that, though ten states have adopted this new Con- 
stitution, yet, as they had no right to dissolve the old Ar- 
ticles of Confederation, these still subsist, and the old Union 
remains, of which we are a part. The truth of that sug- 
gestion may well be doubted, on this ground : when the 
principles of a constitution are violated, the constitution it<- 
self is dissolved, or may be dissolved at the pleasure of the 
parties to it Now, according to the Articles of Confeder- 
ation, Congress had authority to demand money, in a certain 
proportion, from the respective states, to answer the exigen- 
cies of the Union. Whatever requisitions they made for that 
purpose were constitutionally binding on the states. The 
states had no discretion except as to the mode of raising 
the money. Perhaps every state has committed repeated 
violations of the demands of Congress. I do not believe it 
was from any dishonorable intention in many of the states ; 
but whatever was the cause, the fact is, such violations were 
committed. The consequence is that, upon the principle I 
have mentioned, (and in which I believe all writers agree,) 
the Articles of Confederation are no longer binding. It is 
alleged that, by making the consent of nine sufficient to form 
a government for themselves, the first nine may exclude the 
other four. This is a very extraordinary allegation. When 
the new Constitution was proposed, it was proposed to the 
thirteeen states in the Union. It was desired that all should 
%gree, if possible ; but if that could not be obtained, they 
took care that nine states might at least save themselves 


from destmctiou. £ach| undoubtedly, had a light on the 
first proposition, because it was proposed to them all. The 
only doubt can be, whether they had a right afterwards. In 
my opinion, when any state has once rejected the Constitu- 
tion, it cannot claim to come in afterwards as a matter of 

If it does not, in plain terms, reject, but refuses to accede 
for the present, 1 think the other states may regard this as 
an absolute rejection,, and refuse to admit us afterwards but 
at their pleasure, and on what terms they please. Gentle- 
men wish for amendments. On this subject, though we may 
differ as to the necessity of amendments, I believe none will 
deny the propriety of proposing some, if only for the pur- 
pose of giving more general satisfaction. The question, 
then, is, whether it is most prudent for us to come into the 
Union immediately, and propose amendments, (as has been 
done in the other states,) or to propose amendments, and be 
out of the Union till all these be agreed to by the other 
states. The consequences of either resolution I beg leave 
to state. By adopting, we shall be in the Union with our 
• sister states, which is the only foundation of our prosperity 
and safety. We shall avoid the danger of a separation, a 
danger of which the latent effects are unknown. So far 
am I convinced of the necessity of the Union, that I would 
[ive up many things against my own opinion to obtain it. 
[f we sacrificed it by a rejection of the Constitution, or a 
refusal to adopt, (which amounts, I think, nearly to the same 
thing,) the very circumstance of disunion may occasion ani- 
mosity l^etween us and the inhabitants of the other states, 
which may be the means of severing us forever. 

We shall lose the benefit which must accrue to the other 
states from the new government. Their trade will flourish; 
goods will sell cheap; their commodities will rise in value; 
and their distresses, occasioned by the war, will gradually be 
removed. Ours, for want of these advantages, will continue. 
Another very material consequence will result from it : we 
shall lose our share of the imposts in all the states, which, 
under this Constitution, is to go into the federal treasury. 
It is the particular local interest of this state to adopt, on this 
account, more, perhaps, than that of any other member of the 
Union. At present, all these imposts go into the respective 
treasury of each state, and we well know our own are of little 


232 DEBATES. [Ibedell. 

conscq lence, compared to those of the other states in general 
The gtaitltiman from Halifax (Mr. Jones) has offered an ex- 
|)edient to prevent the loss oi our share of the impost. In 
my opinion, that expedient will not answer, the purpose. 
The amount of duties on goods imported into this state is 
very little ; and if these resolutions are agreed to, it will be 
less. I ask any gentleman whether the United States would 
receive, from the duties of this state, so much as would be our 
proportion, under the Constitution, of the duties on goods im- 
ported in all the states. Our duties would be no manner of 
compensation for such proportion. What would be the lan- 
guage of Congress on our holding forth such an offer ? " If 
you are willing to enjoy the benefits of the Union, you must 
be subject to all the laws of it. We will make no partial 
agreement with you." This would probably be their lan- 
guage. I have no doubt all America would wish North 
Carolina to be a member of the Union. It is of importance 
to them. But we ought to consider whether ten states can 
do longer without one, or one without ten. On a compe- 
tition, which will give way ? The adopting states will say, 
*' Other states had objections as well as you ; but rather than 
separate, they agreed to come into the Union, trusting to the 
Justice of the other states for the adoption of proper amend- 
ments afterwards. One most respectable state, Virginia, has 
pursued this measure, though apparently averse to the system 
as it now stands. But you have laid down the condition on 
which alone you will come into the Union. We must accede 
to your particular propositions, or be disunited from you 
altogether. Is it fit that North Carolina shall dictate to the 
whole Union ? We may be convinced by your reason, but 
our conduct will certainly not be altered by your resistance." 
I beg leave to say, if Virginia thought it right to adopt and 
propose aniendments, under the circumstances of the Con- 
stitution at that time, surely it is much more so for us in our 
present situation. That state, as was justly observed, is a 
most powerful and respectable one. Had she held out, it 
would have been a subject of most serious alarm. But she 
thought the risk of losing the union altogether too dangerous 
to be incurred. She did not then know of the ratification of 
New Hampshire. If she thought it necessary to adopt, when 
only eight states had ratified, is it not much more necessary 
for us after the ratification by ten ? I do not say that we 

Iredbll.] north CAROLINA. 233 

ought servilely to imitate any example. But I may say, that 
the examples of wise men and intelligent nations are worthy 
of respect ; and that, in general, we may be much safer in 
following than in departing from them. In my opinion, as 
many of the amendments proposed are similar to amend- 
ments recommended not only by Virginia, but by other states, 
there is great probability of their being obtained. All the 
amendments proposed, undoubtedly, will not be, nor I think 
ought to be ; but such as tend to secure more effectually the 
liberties of the people against an abuse of the powers granted 
in all human probability, will ; for in such amendments all 
the states are equally interested. The probability of such 
amendments being obtained is extremely great ; for though 
three states ratified the Constitution unanimously, there has 
been a considerable opposition in the other states. In New 
Hampshire, the majority was small. In Massachusetts, there 
was a strong opposition. In Connecticut, the opposition was 
about one third : so it was in Pennsylvania. In Maryland, 
the minority was small, but very respectable. In Virginia, 
they had little more than a bare majority. There was a 
^powerful minority in South Carolina. Can any man pre- 
tend to say that, thus circumstanced, the states would dis- 
approve of amendments calculated to give satisfaction to the 
people at large ? There is a very great probability, if not an 
absolute certainty, that amendments will be obtained. The 
interest of North Carolina would add greatly to the scale in 
their favor. If we do not accede, we may injure the states 
who wish for amendments, by withdrawing ourselves from 
their assistance. We are not, at any event, in a condition 
to stand alone. God forbid we should be a moment sepa- 
rated from our sister states! If we are, we shall be in great 
danger of a separation forever. I trust every gentleman will 
pause before he contributes to so awful an event. 

We have been happy in our connection with the other 
states. Our freedom, independence, every thing dear to us, 
has been derived from that union we are now going rashly 
to dissolve. If we are to be separated, let every gentleman 
well weigh the ground he stands on before he votes for the 
separation. Let him not have to reproach himself, hereafter, 
that he voted without due consideration for a measure that 
proved the destruction of his country. 

Mr. Iiedell then observed that there were insinuations 

VOL IV 30 


thrown out, against those who favored the Coustitation, 
that ihej had a view of getting offices and emoluments. He 
said, he hoped no man thought him so wicked as to sacrifice 
the interest of his country to private views. He declared, in 
the most solemn manner, the insinuation was unjust and iH- 
founded as to himself. He believed it was so with respect 
to the rest. The interest and happiness of his country solely 
governed him on that occasion. He could appeal to some 
members in the house, and particularly to those who knew 
him in the lower part of the country, that his disposition had 
never been pecuniary, and that he had never aspired to 
offices. At the beginning of the revolution, he said, he held 
one of the best offices in the state under the crown — -an 
office on which he depended for his support. His reflations 
were in Great Britain ; yet, though thus circumstanced, 80 
far was he from being influenced by pecuniary motives, or 
emoluments of office, that, as soon as his situation would ad** 
mit of it, he did not hesitate a moment to join the opposition 
to Great Britain ; nor wotild the richest office of America 
have tempted him to adhere to that unjust cause of the Brit 
ish government. He apologized for taking up the time of 
the committee ; but he observed, that reflections of that kind 
were considered as having applied, unless they were taken 
notice of. He attributed no unworthy motives to any gen 
tieman in the house. He believed most of them wished to 
pursue the interest of their country according to their own 
ideas of it. He hoped other gentlemen would be equally 

Mr. WILLIE JONES observed, that he assigned un- 
worthy motives to no one. He thought a gentleman had insin- 
uated that the opposition all acted from base motives. He 
was well assured that their motives were as good as those of 
the other party, and he thought he had a right to retort by 
showing that selfish views might influence as well on one 
side as the other. He intended, however, no particular re^ 
flection on those two gentlemen who had applied the obser- 
vation to themselves — for whom, he said, he had the highest 
respect, and was sorry he had made the observation, as it 
had given them pain. But if they were conscious that the 
observation did not apply to them, they ought not to be of- 
fended at it. He then explained the nature of the resolutions 
he proposed ; and the plain question was, whether they 


should adopt them or not. He was not afraid ihac North 
Carolina would Bot be admitted at any time htroafter 
Maryland, ke said, had not confederated for many years with 
the other states ; yet she was considered in the mean time 
as a member of the Union, was allowed as such to send her 
proportion of men and money, and was at length admitted 
into the confederacy, in 1781. This, he said, showed how 
the adopting states would act on the present occasion. 
North Carolina might come into the Union when she 

Gov. JOHNSTON made some observations as to the par- 
ticular case of Maryland, but in too low a voice to be dis- 
tinctly heard. 

Mr. BLOOD WORTH observed, that the first convention 
which met to consult on the necessary alterations of the Con- 
federation, so as to make it efficient, and put the commerce 
of the United States on a better footing, not consisting of a 
<^fficient number from the diflferent states, so as to authorize 
them to proceed, returned without effecting any thing ; but 
proposed that another convention should be called, to have 
more extensive powers to alter and amend the Confedera- 
tion. This proposition of that convention was warmly op- 
posed in Congress. Mr. King, from Massachusetts, insisted 
OQ the impropriety of the measure, and that the existing 
system ought to stand as it was. His arguments, he sakl, 
were, that it might destroy the Confederation to propose al- 
terations ; that the unanimous consent of all the states was 
necessary to introduce those alterations, which could not pos- 
sibly be obtained ; and that it would, therefore, be in vain to 
attempt it. He wondered how gentlemen came to enter^ 
tain different opinions now. He declared he had listened 
with attention to the arguments of the gentlemen on the 
other side, and had endeavored to remove every kind of bias 
from his mind ; yet he had heard nothing of sufficient weight 
to induce him to alter his opinion. He was sorry that there 
was any division on that important occasion, and wished they 
could all go hand in hand. 

As to the disadvantages of a temporary exclusion from the 
Union, he thought them trifling. He asked if a few politi- 
cal advantages could be put in competition with our lib- 
erties. Gentlemen said that amendments would piobably 
be obtained. He thought their arguments and reasons were 

23o DEBATES [Davie 

not so sure a method to obtain them as withholding tlieir 
consent would be. He could not conceive that the adopting 
states would take any measures to keep this state out of the 
Union. If a right view were taken of the subject, he said 
they could not be blamed in staying out of the Union till 
amendments were obtained. The compact between the 
states was violate 1 by the other states, and not by North 
Carolina. Would the violating party blame the upright 
party ? This determination would correspond with the opin- 
ion of the gentleman who had written from France on the 
subject. He would lay stress on no man's opinion, but the 
opinion of that gentleman was very respectable. 

Mr. DAVIE. Mr. Chairman, it is said that there is a 
great majority against the Constitution, and in favor of the 
gentleman's proposition. The object of the majority, I sup- 
pose, is to pursue the most probable method of obtaining 
amendments. The honorable gentleman from Halifax has 
said this is the most eligible method of obtaining them. My 
opinion is the very reverse. Let us weigh the probability 
of both modes proposed, and determine with candor which 
IS the safest and surest method of obtaining the wished-for 
alterations. The honorable gentleman from Anson has said 
that our conduct in adhering to these resolutions would be 
modest. What is his idea or definition of modesty ? The 
term must be very equivocal. So far from being modest, it 
appears to me to be no less than an arrogant, dictatorial 
proposal of a constitution to the United States of America. 
We shall be no part of that confederacy, and yet attempt to 
dictate to one of the most powerful confederacies in the 
world. It is also said to be most agreeable to prudence. If 
our real object be amendments, every man must agree that 
the most likely means of obtaining them are the most prudent. 
Four of the most respectable states have adopted the Consti- 
tution, and recommended amendments. New York, (if she re- 
fuses to adopt,) Rhode Island, and North Carolina, will be the 
only states out of the Union. But if these three were added, 
they would compose a majority in favor of amendments, and 
might, by various means, compel the other states into the 
measure. It must be granted that there is no way of ob- 
taining amendments but the mode prescribed in the Consti- 
tution ; two thirds of the legislatures of the states in the 
co7ifederacy may require Congress to call a convention to 

Oatie.] north carouna. 237 


propose amendments, or the same proportion of both houses 
may propose them. It will then be of no consequence that 
we stand out and propose amendments. Without adoption 
we are not a member of the confederacy, and, possessing no 
federal rights, can neither make any proposition nor require 
Congress to call a convention. 

Is it not clear, however strange it may be, that we arc 
^withholding our weight from those states who are of our own 
opinion, and by a perverse obstinacy obstructing the ver^ 
measure we wish to promote ? If two thirds of l)oth houses 
^re necessary to send forward amendments to the states, 
%vould it not be prudent that we should be there, and add 
c)ur vote to the number of those states who are of the same 
sentiment ? The honorable member from Anson has likened 
this business to a copartnership, comparing small things to 
great. The comparison is only just in one respect : the 
dictatorial proposal of North Carolina to the American con- 
federacy is like a beggarly bankrupt addressing an opulent 
company of merchants, and arrogantly telling them, " 1 wish 
to be in copartnership with you, but the terms must be such 
• as I please. ^^ What has North Carolina to put into the stock 
with the other states ? Have we not felt our poverty ? 
What was the language of Congress on their last requisition 
on this state ? Surely gentlemen must rememl)er the pain- 
ful terms in which our delinquency was treated. The gen- 
deman has also said that we shall still be a part of the 
Union, and if we be separated, it is not our fault. This is 
an obvious solecism. It is our own faulty sir, apd the direct 
consequence of the means we are now pursuing. North 
Carolina stands foremost in the pint of delinquency,, and 
has repeatedly violated the Confederation. The conduct of 
this state has been among the principal causes which pro- 
duced this revolution in our federal government. The honor- 
able gentleman has also added, "that it was a rule in law that 
the same solemnities were necessary to annul, which were 
necessary to create or establish, a compact ; and that, as thir- 
teen states created, so thirteen states must concur in the 
dissohition of the Confederation." — This may be talking 
like a lawyer or a judge, but it is very unlike a politician. 
A majority is the rule of republican decisions. It was the 
voice of a majority of the people of America that gave that 
system validity, and the same authority can and will annul 

'J3a DEBATES. [Jhtvtm. 

it at anj time. Every man of common sense knows that 
political power is political right. Lawyers may cavil and 
quibble about the necessity of unanimity, but the true prin- 
ciple is otherwise. In every republican community, the 
majority binds the minority ; and whether confederated or sep- 
arated, the principle will equally apply. We have no right 
to come into the Union until we exercise the right of decid- 
ing on the question referred to us. Adoption places us in 
the Union — rejection extinguishes the right forever. The 
scheme proposed by these gentlemen will certainly be con- 
sidered as an absolute rejection ; it may amuse the people, 
and answer a purpose here, but will not answer any purpose 

The honorable gentleman from Halifax asserts, " We may 
come in when we please." The gentleman from New 
Hanover, on the same side of the question, endeavored to 
alarm and frighten us about the dangerous influence of the 
Eastern States. If he deserves any credit, can we expect 
they will let us into the Union, until they have accomplished 
their particular views, and then but on the most disadvan- 
tageous terms ? Commercial regulations will be one of the ' 
great objects of the first session of Congress, in which our 
interests will be totally neglected. Every man must be con- 
vinced of the importance of the first acts and regulations, 
as they will probably give a tone to the policy of ages yet to 
come; and this scheme will add greatly to the influence of 
the Eastern States, and proportionably diminish the power 
and interests. of the Southern States. 

The gentleman says he has a project in his pocket, which, 
he risks his life, will induce the other states to give us a share 
of the general impost. I am fully satisfied, sir, this project 
will not answer the purpose, and the forfeiture of his life will 
be no compensation for irretrievable public loss. Every 
man who knows the resources of our commerce, and our 
situation, will be clearly convinced that the project cannot 
succeed. The whole produce of our duties, both by land and 
water, is very trifling. For several years past, it has not ex- 
ceeded £10,000 of our own paper money. It will not lie 
more — probably less — if we were out of the Union. The 
whole proportion of this state of the public debts, except this 
mere pittance, must be raised from the people by direct and 
immediate taxation. 

Spescer.] north CAROLINA. 239 

But the fact is, sir, it cannot be raised, because it cannoc 
be paid ; and without sharing in the general impost, we shall 
never discharge our quota of the federal debt What does 
he offer the other states ? The poor pitUmce I have men- 
tioned. Can we suppose Congress so lost to every sense of 
duty, interest, and justice ? Would their constituents permit 
them to put their hands into their pockets to pay our debts ? 
We have no equivalent to give them for it. As several 
powerful states have proposed amendments, they will, no 
doubt, be supported with zeal and perseverance, so that it is 
not probable that the object of amendments will be lost. 
We may struggle on for a few years, and render ourselves 
wretched and contemptible ; but we must at last come into 
the Union on their terms, however humiliating they may be. 
The projeet on the table is little better tiian an absolute re- 
jection, and is neither rational nor politic, as it cannot pro- 
mote the end proposed. 

Mr. LOCKE, in reply to Mr. Davie, expressed some ap- 
prehensions that the Constitution, if adopted as it then stood, 
would render the people poor and miserable. He thought it 
would be very productive of expenses. The advantages of 
the impost he considered as of little consequence, as he 
thought all the money raised that way, and more, would be 
swept away by courtly parade — the emoluments of the Pres- 
ident, and other members of the government, the Supreme 
Court, &c. These expenses would* double the impost, in 
his opinion. They would render the states bankrupt. 
The imposts, he imagined, would be inconsiderable. The 
people of America began to import less foreign frippery. 
Every wise planter was fond of home manufacture; The 
Northern States minufacturod considerably, and he thought 
manufactures would increase diiily. He thought a previous 
ratification dangerous. The worst that could happen would 
be, that we should be thrown out of the Union. He would 
rather that shoild be the case, than embrace a tyrannical 
government, and give away our rights and privileges. He 
was therefore determined to vote for the resolutions of the 
gentleman from Halifax. 

Mr. SPENCER observed that, if the conduct of North 
Carolina would be immodest and dictatorial in proposing 
amendments, and if it was proposing a constitution to the 
other states, he was sure the other states, who had proposed 
the same s^meodments^ were equally guilty of immodesty and 

240 DEBATES. [Davib. 

dictating a constitution to the other states; the only differ- 
ence being, that this state does not adopt previously. The 
gentleman had objections to his legal maxims, and said they 
were not politic. He would be extremely sorry, he said, if 
the maxims of justice should not take place in politics. 
Were this to be the case, there could be no faith put in any 
compact. He thought the comparison of the state to a beg* 
gar was a degradation of it, and insisted on the propriety of 
his own comparison, which he thought obvious to any one. 
He acknowledged that an exclusion from the Union would 
be a most unhappy circumstance ; but he had no idea that 
it would be the case. As this mode of proceeding would 
hasten the amendments, he could not but vote for it. 

Mr. JONES defined the word modesty by contrasting it 
with its antagonist, impudence. The gentleman found fault 
with the observation, that this was the most decent and best 
way of obtaining amendments. If gentlemen would propose 
a more eligible method, he would consent to that. He said 
the gentleman had reviled the state by his comparison, and 
must have hurt the feelings of every gentleman in the house. 
He had no apprehension that the other states would refuse 
to admit them into the Union, when they thought proper to 
come in. It was their interest to admit them. He asked 
if a beggar would refuse a boon, though it were but a shilling ; 
or if twelve m(»n, struggling under a heavy load, would refuse 
the assistance of a thirteenth man. 

A desultory conversation now took place. 

Mr. DAVIE hoped they would not take up the whole 
collectively, but that the proposed amendments would be 
considered one by one. Some other gentlemen expressed 
the same desire. 

Many other gentlemen thought the resolution very proper as it stood. 

The question being put, the resolution was agreed to by a great ma- 
jority of the committee. 

It was then resolved that the committee should rise. Mr. President 
resumed the chair, and Mr. Kenan reported, from the committee of the 
whole Convention, that the committee had again had the Constitution 
proposed for the future government of I he United States under consider- 
ation, and had come to a resolution thereupon ; which he read in his 
place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk's table. 

Ordered, That the said report lie on the table until to-morrow moni- 
mg, 9 o'clock ; to which time the house adjourned. 

Friday, August 1, 1788 

The Convention met according to adjournment. 


Mr. IREDELL. Mr. President : 1 believe, sir, all de- 
bate is now at an end. It is useless to contend any longer 
against a majority that is irresistible. We submit, with *lie 
deference that becomes us, to the decision of a majority ; but 
my friends and myself are anxious that something may ap- 

rsar on the Journal to show our sentiments on the subject, 
have therefore a resolution in my hand to offer, not with a 
view of creating any debate, (for I know it will be instantly 
rejected,) but merely that it may be entered on the Journal^ 
with the yeas and nays taken upon it, in order that our con- 
stituents and the world may know what our opinions really 
were on this important occasion. We prefer this to the 
exceptionable mode of a protest, which might increase the* 
spirit of party animosity among the people of this country, 
which is an event we wish to prevent, if possible. 1 there 
fore, sir, have the honor of moving — 

*^* That the consideration of the report of the committee be postponed 
in order to take up the consideration of the following resolution." 

Mr. IREDELL then read the resolution in his place, and 
afterwards delivered it in at the clerk's table, and his motion 
was seconded by Mr. JOHN SKINNER. 

Mr. JOSEPH M'DOWALL, and several other gentle 
men, most strongly objected against the propriety of thia 
motion. They thought it improper, unprecedented, and a 
great contempt of the voice of the majority. 

Mr. IREDELL replied, that he thought it perfectly regu 
lar, and by no means a contempt of the majority. The sole 
intention of it was to show the opinion of the minority, 
which could not, in any other manner, he so properly done 
They wished to justify themselves to their constituents, and 
the people at large would judge between the merits of the 
two propositions. They wished also to avoid, if possible, the 
disagreeable alternative of a protest. This being the first 
time he ever had the honor of being a member of a repre- 
sentative body, he did not solely confide in his own judg- 
ment, as to the proper manner of bringing his resolution 
forward, but had consulted a very respectable and experi- 
enced member of that house, who recommended this method 
to him ; and he well knew it was conformable to a frequent 
practice in Congress, as he had observed by their Journals. 
Each member had an equal right to make a motion, and if 
seconded, a vote ought to be taken upon it ; and he trusted 

VOL. IV- 31 21 

Z42 DEBATES. [Datir. 

the majority would not be so arbitrary as to prevent them from 
taking this method to deliver their sentiments to the world. 

He was supported by Mr. MACLA'INE and Mr. 

Mr. WILLIE JONES and Mr. SPENCER insisted on 
lis being irregular, and said they might protest. Mr. Jones 
said, there never was an example of the kind before ; that 
such a practice did not prevail in Congress when he was a 
member of it, and he well knew no such practice had ever 
prevailed in the Assembly. 

Mr. DAVIE said, he was sorry that gentlemen should not 
deal fairly and liberally with one another. He declared it 
was perfectly parliamentary, and the usual practice in Con- 
gress. They were in possession of the motion, and could 
not get rid of it without taking a vote upon it. It was in 
the nature of a previous question. He declared that nothing 
hurt his feelings so much as the blind tyranny of a dead 

After a warm discussion on this point by several gentle- 
men on both sides of the house, it was at length intimated to 
Mr. Iredell, by Mr. Spaight, across the house, that Mr. Le- 
noir, and some other gentlemen of the majority, wished he 
would withdraw his motion for the present, on purpose that 
the resolution of the committee might be first entered on 
the Journal, which had not been done ; and afterwards his 
motion might be renewed. Mr. Iredell declared he would 
readily agree to this, if the gentleman who had seconded him 
would, desiring the house to remember that he only withdrew 
his motion for that reason, and hoped he should have leave 
to introduce it afterwards ; which seemed to be understood. 
He accordingly, with the consent of Mr. Skinner, withdrew 
his niotion ; and the resolution of the committee of the whole 
house was then read, and ordered to be entered on the Jour- 
nal. The resolution was accordingly read and entered, as 
follows, viz. : — 

•* Resolved, That a declaration of rights, asserting and securing trcnn 
encroachment the great principles of civil and religious liberty, and the 
unalienable rights of the people, together with amendments to the most 
ambiguous and exceptionable parts of the said Constitution of govern- 
ment, ought to be laid before Congress, and the convention of the states 
that sh;ill or may be called for the purpose of amending the said Constitu* 
lion, for their consideration, previous to the ratification of the Constitu- 
liou afnresaid en the part of the state of North Carolina." 



" 1. That there are certain natural rights, of which men, when they 
form a social compact, cannot deprive or divest their posterity, among 
which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring, 
possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining liappi- 
ness and safety. 

'* 2. That all power is naturally vested in, and consequently derived 
from, the people ; that magistrates, therefore, are their trustees and agents, 
and at all times amenable to them. 

•* 3. That government ought to be instituted for the common benefit, 
protection, and security, of the people ; and that the doctrine of non- 
resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and 
destructive to the good and happiness of mankind. 

'* 4. That no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive or separate 
public emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration 
of public services, which not being descendible, neither ought the offices 
of magistrate, legislator, or judge, or any other public office, to be hered- 

** 5. That the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers of govern- 
ment should be separate and distinct, and that the members of the two 
first may be restrained from oppression by feeling and participating the 
public burdens : they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private 
station, return into the mass of the people, and the vacancies be supplied 
by certain and regular elections, in which all or any part of the former 
members to be eligible or ineligible, as the rules of the constitution of 
government and the laws shall direct. 

" 6. That elections of representatives in the legislature ought to be 
free and frequent, and all men having sufficient evidence of permanent 
common interest with, and attachment to, the community, ought to have 
the right of suffrage ; and no aid, charge, tax, or fee, can be set, raled, 
or levied, upon the people without their own consent, or that of their rep- 
resentatives so elected ; nor can they be bound by any law to which they 
have not in like manner assented for the public good. 

" 7. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by 
?my authority, without the consent of the representatives of the people 
iu the legislature, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be ex- 

*' 8. Thnt, in all capital and criminal prosecutions, a man hath a right 
to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with 
the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence, and be allowed counsel 
in his favor, and a fair and speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vici- 
nage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty, (except 
in the government of the land and naval forces ;) nor can he be compelled 
to give evidence against himself. 

*'9. That no freeman ouorht to be taken, imprisoned, or disseized ol 
his freehold, liberties, privileges, or franchises, or outlawed or exiled, or 
in any manner destroyed, or deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but 
by the law of the land. 

" 10. That every freeman, restrained of his liberty, is entitled to a 
remedy to inquire into the lawfulness thereof, and to remove the aamfl 
if ani awful ; and that such remedy ought not to be denied nor delayed. 
11 That, in controversies respecting property, and in suits between 




man and rjan, the aricient trial by jury is one of the greatest secutities 
to the lights of the people, and ought to remain sacred and inviolable. 

** 12. That every freeman ought to find a certain remedy, by recourse 
\p the lawSy for all injuries and wrongs he may receive in his pertioa, prop* 
erty, or character ; he ought to obtain right and justice freely without 
8fde, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay ; and that 
all establishments or regulations contravening these rights are oppressive 
^d unjust. 

** 13. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines 
imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. 

** 14. That every freeman has a right to be secure from all unreasona- 
ble searches and seizures of his person, his papers and property ; all war- 
rantSy therefore, to search suspected places, or to apprehend any suspected 
person, without specially naming or describing the place or person, are 
dangerous, and ought not to be granted. 

'' 15. That the people have a right peaceably to assemble together, to 
Qoqsult for the common good, or to instruct their representatives ; and 
Otat every freeman has a right to petition or apply to the legislature for 
redress of grievances. 

*' 16. That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of. wri 
ting and publishing their sentiments ; that freedom of the press is one of 
t)ie greatest bulwarks of liberty, and ought not to be violated. 

** 17. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms ; that a well- 
regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, it 
tne proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state ; that standing armies^ 
in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoid* 
ed, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will ad> 
mit ; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict sqbordina* 
lion to, and governed by, the civil power. 

** 18. That no soldier, in time of peace, ought to be quartered in any 
iiouse without the consent of the owner, and in time of war, in such man- 
ner only as the laws direct 

** 19. That any person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms ought to 
be exempted, upon payment of an equivalent to employ another to bear 
arms in his stead. 

" 20. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the 
manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, 
not by force or violence ; and therefore all men have an equal, natural, 
and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the 
clictates of conscience ; and that no particular religious sect or society 
Qught to be favored or established by law in preference to others." 


•* i. That each state in the Union shall respectively retain every power, 
jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Constitution delegated to the 
Congress of the United States, or to the departments of the federal gov- 

" 2. That there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand, 
according to the enumeration or census mentioned in the Constitution, 
unti\ the who!e number of representatives amounts to two hundred; afler 
which that nuiptx^r shall be continued or increased as Congress shall di- 


rect, apon the principles fixed in the Constitntion, by apportioning the 
representatives of each state to some greater number of the people, from 
time to time, as the population increases. 

** 3. When .Congress shall lay direct taxes or excises, they shall imfn6- 
diately inform the executive power of each state of the quota of such state, 
according to the census herein directed, which is proposed to be thereby 
raised ; and if the legislature of any state shall pass any law which shall 
be effectual for raising such quota at the time required by Congress, the 
taxes and excises laid by Congress shall not be collected in such state. 

" 4. That the members of the Senate and House of Representatives 
shall be ineligible to, and incapable of holding, any civil office under the 
authority of the United States, during the time for which they shall re- 
spectively be elected. 

" 5. That the Journals of the proceedings of the Senate and House of 
Representatives shall be published at least once in every year, except such 
parts thereof relating to treaties, alliances, or military operations, ks m 
their judi^ment require secrecy. 

" 6. That a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditure^ 
of alf public moneys shall be published at least once in every year. 

** 7. That no commercial treaty shall be ratified without the concur- 
rence of two thirds of the whole number of the members of the Senate. 
And no treaty, ceding, contracting, restraining, or suspending, the terri- 
torial rights or claims of the United States, or any of them, or their, ot* 
any of their, rights or claims of fishing in the American seas, or navigating 
the American rivers, shall he made, but in cases of the most urgent and 
extreme necessity ; nor shall any such treaty be ratified without the con- 
currence of three fourths of the whole number of the members of both 
houses respectively. 

**S. That no navigation law, or law regulating commerce, shall be 
passed without the consent of two thirds of the members present itl both 

" 9. That no standing army or regular troops shall be raised or kept u^ 
in time of peace, without the consent of two thirds of the members present 
in both houses. 

" lO. Thnt no soldier shall be enlisted for any longer term than four 
fears, except in time of war, and then for no longer term than the continu- 
ance of the war. 

" 11. That each state respectively shall have the power to provide for 
organizing, arming, and disciplining its own militia, whensoever Congress 
■hall omit or neglect to provide for the same ; that the militia shall not be 
labject to martial law, except when in actual service in time of war, in- 
vasion, or rebellion ; and when not in the actual service of the United 
States, shall be subject only to such fines, penalties, and punishments, ai 
shall be directed or inflicted by the laws of its own state. 

** 12. That Congress shall not declare any state to be in rebellion, with- 
out the consent of at least two thirds of all the members present in botA 

•* IS. That the exclusive power of legislation given to Congress over th^ 
federal town atid its adjacent district, and other places purchased or to 
be purchased by Congress of any of the states, shall extend only to such 
reg'ilations as respect the police and good erovernment thereof. 

*• 14. That no person shall be capable df being President of the United 
States Ibr more tnah eight yidars in any term of f^fleen years. 


** 15. That the judicial power of the United States shall be ested in 
one Supreme Court, and in such courts of admiralty as Congress may from 
time to time ordain and establish in any of the different states. The judi- 
cial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under trea- 
ties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States ; 
to all cases affecting ambassadors, other foreign ministers, and consuls ; 
to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction ; to controversies to 
which the United States shall be a party ; to controversies between two or 
more states, and between parties claiming lands under the grants of differ- 
ent states. In all cases affecting ambassadors, other foreign ministers, and 
consuls, and those in which a state shall be a party, the Supreme Court 
shall have original jurisdiction. In all other cases before mentioned, the 
Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction as to matters of law only, 
except in cases of equity, and of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, in 
which the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction both as to law 
and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations, as the Con- 
gress shall make: but the judicial power of the United States shall extend 
to no case where the cause of action shall have originated before the rati- 
fication of this Constitution, except in disputes between states about dtheir 
territory, disputes between persons claiming lands under the grants of dif- 
ferent states, and suits for debts due to the United States. 

** 16. That, in criminal prosecutions, no man shall be restrained in the 
exercise of the usual and accustomed right of challenging or excepting to 
the jury. 

" 17. That Congress shall not alter, modify, or interfere in, the times, 
places, or manner, of holding elections for senators and representatives, or 
either of them, except when the legislature of any state shall neglect, 
refuse, or be disabled, by invasion or rebellion, to prescribe the same. 

** 18. That those clauses which declare that Congress shall not exercise 
certain powers be not interpreted in any manner whatsoever to extend 
the power of Congress; but that they be construed either as making ex- 
ceptions to the specified powers, where this shall be the case, or otherwise 
as inserted merely for greater caution. 

" 19. That the laws ascertaining the compensation of senators and rep- 
resentatives for their services, be postponed in their operation until after 
the election of representatives immediately succeedinir the passing thereof, 
that excepted which shall first be passed on the subject. 

"20. That some tribunal other than the Senate be provided for trying 
impeachments of senators. 

** 21. That the salary of a judge shall not be increased or diminished dur- 
ing his continuance in office, otherwise than by general regulations of salary, 
which may take place on a revision of the subject at stated periods of not 
less than seven years, to commence from the time such salaries shall be 
first ascertained l)y Congress. 

" 22. That Congress erect no company of merchants with exclusive ad- 
vantages of'coinmerce. 

"23. That no treaties which shall be directly opposed to the existing 

laws of the United States in Congress assembled shall be valid until such 

aws shall be repealed, or made conformable to such treaty; nor shall any 

treaty be valid which is contradictory to the Constitution of the United 


"24. That the latter part of the 5th paragraph of the 9th section of the 
1st article be altered to read thus : ' Nor shall vessels bound to a particu 

Iredelu] north CAROLINA. 247 

lar state be obliged to enter or pay duties in any other ; nor, when bounu 
from any one of the states, be obliged to clear in another/ 

" 25. Th it Congress shall not, directly or indirectly, either by them- 
selves or through the judiciary, interfere with any one of the states in the 
redemption of paper money already emitted and now in circulation, or in 
liquidating and discharging the public securities of any one of the states, 
hut each and every state shall have the exclusive right of making such lawn 
and regulations, for the above purposes, as they shall think proper. 

'* 26. That Congress shall nut introduce foreign troops into the United 
States without the consent of two thirds of the members present of both 

Mr. SPENCER then moved that the report of the com- 
mittee be concurred with, and was seconded by. Mr. J. 

Mr. IREDELL moved that the consideration of that mo- 
tion he postponed, in order to take into consideration the fol- 
lowing resolution : 

[Which resolution was the same he introduced before, and 
which he afterwards, in substance, moved by way of amend- 

This gave rise to a very warm altercation on both sides, 
during which the house was in great confusion. Many gen- 
tlemen in the majority (particularly Mr. WILLIE JONES) 
strongly contended against the propriety of the motion. 
Several gentlemen in the minority resented, in strong terms, 
the arbitrary attempt of the majority (as they termed it) to 
suppress their sentiments ; and Mr. Sr AIGHT, in particu- 
lar, took notice, with great indignation, of the motion made 
to concur with the committee, when the gentleman from 
Edenton appeared in some measure to have had the faith of 
the house that he should have an opportunity to renew his 
motion, which he had withdrawn at the request of some of 
the majority themselves. Mr. WHITMILL HILL spoke 
with great warmth, and declared that, in his opinion, if the 
majority persevered in their tyrannical attempt, the minority 
should secede. 

Mr. WILLIE JONES still contended that the motion 
was altogether irregular and improper, and made a motion 
calculated to show that such a motion, made and seconded 
under the circumstances in which it had been introduced, 
was not entitled to be entered on the Journal. His motion, 
being seconded, wis carried by a great majority. The yeas 
and nayb were moved for, and were taking, when Mr. IRE- 
DELL arose, and said he was sensible of the irregularity ht> 

2i8 DEBATES. [Irsdelu 

was guilty of, and hoped he should be excuseo for it, but it 
arose from his desire of saving the house trouble ; that Mr. 
Jones (he begged pardon for naming him) had proposed an 
expedient to him, with which he should be perfectly satis- 
fied, if the house approved of it, as it was indifferent to him 
what was the mode, if his object in substance was obtained. 
The method proposed was, that the motion for concurrence 
should be withdrawn, and his resolution should be moved by 
way of an amendment. If the house, therefore, approved of 
this method, and the gentlemen who had moved and sec- 
( nded the motion would agree to withdraw it, he hoped it 
would be deemed unnecessary to proceed with the yeas and 

Mr. NATHAN BRYAN said, the gentleman treated the 
majority with contempt. Mr. IREDELL declared he had 
no such intention ; hut as the yeas and nays were taken on a 
difference between both sides of the house, which he hoped 
might be accommodated, he thought he might be excused 
for the liberty he had taken. 

Mr. SPENCER and Mr. M'DOWALL, after some ob- 
servations not distinctly heard, accordingly withdrew their 
motion ; and it was agreed that the yeas and nays should not 
be taken, nor the motion which occasioned them entered on 
the Journal. Mr. IREDELL then moved as follows, viz. : — 

That the report of the committee be amended, by striking 
out all the words of the said report except the two first, viz. : 
" Resolved, That," and that the following words be inserted 
in their room, viz. : — " this Convention, having fully delib- 
erated on the Constitution proposed for the future govern- 
ment of the United States of America by the Federal Con- 
vention lately held, at Philadelphia, on the 17th day of Sep- 
tember last, and having taken into their serious and solemn 
consideration the present critical situation of America, which 
induces them to be of opinion that, though certain amend- 
ments to the said Constitution may be wished for, yet that 
those amendments should be proposed subsequent to the rati- 
fication on the part of this state, and not previous to it : — 
they do, therefore, on liehalf of the state of North Carolina, 
and the good people thereof, and by virtue of the authority 
to them delegated, ratify the said Constitution on the part of 
this state ; and they do at the same time recommend that, 
as early as possible, the following amendments to the 8a*d 


Constitution may be proposed for the consideration and 
adoption of the several states in the Union, in one of the 
»uodes prescribed by the 6th article thereof: " — 


"1. Each state in the Union shall respectively retain every power, 
jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Constitation delegated to the 
Congress of the United States, or to the departments of the general gov- 
ernment; nor shall the said Congress, nor any department of the said 
government, exercise any act of authority over any individual in any of 
the said states, but such as can be justified under some power particularly 
given in this Constitution ; but the said Constitution shall be considered 
at h11 times a solemn instrument, defining the extent of their authority, 
and the limits of which they cannot rightfully in any instance exceed. 

** 2. There shall be one representative for every thirty thousand, ac- 
cording to the enumeration or census mentioned in the Constitution, until 
the whole number of representatives amounts Co two hundred ; after which, 
that number shall be continued or increased, as Congress shall direct, up- 
on the principles fixed in the Constitution, by apportioning the represent- 
atives of each state to some greater number of people, from time to time, 
as the population increases. 

" S. Each state respectively shall have the power to provide for or- 
ganizing, arming, and disciplining, its own militia, whensoever Congress 
shall omit or neglect to provide for the same. The militia shall not be 
subject to martial law, except when in actual service in time of war, in- 
vasion, or rebellion ; and when they are not in the actual service of the 
United States, they shall be subject only to such fines, penalties, and 
punishments, as shall be directed or inflicted by the laws of its own 

" 4. The Congress shall not alter, modify, or interfere in the times, 
places, or manner, of holding elections for senators and representatives, 
or either of them, except when the legislature of any state shall neglect, 
refuse, or be disabled by invasion or rebellion, to prescribe the same. 

'* 5. The laws ascertaining the compensation of senators and representa- 
tives, (or their services, shall be postponed in their operation until afler 
the election of representatives immediately succeeding the passing there- 
of; that excepted which shall first be passed on the subject. 

" 6. Instead of the following words in the 9th section of the 1st ar- 
licle, viz., ' Nor shall vessels bound to or from one state be obliged to 
enter, clear, or pay duties, in another,' [the meaning of which is by many 
deemed not sufficiently explicit,] it is proposed that the following shall 
be substituted : ' No vessel bound to one state shall be obliged to enter 
or pay duties, to which such vessel may be liable at any port of entry, in 
any other state than that to which such vessel is bound ; nor shall any 
vessel bound from one state be obliged to clear, or pay duties to which 
such vessel shall be liable at any port of clearance, in any other state than 
that from which such vessel is bound.' " 

He was seconded by Mr. JOHN SKINNER. 
Th<» question was then put, " Will the Convention adopi 
VOL. IV. 32 



that amendment or not ? " and it was negatived ; wliere- 
upon Mr. IREDELL moved that the yeas and nays should 
be taken, and he was seconded by Mr. STEELE. Thev 
were accordingly taken, and were as follows : — 


His excellency, Samuel 

Messrs. Ja*s Iredell, Edmund Blount, 
Archibald Maclaine, Chowan. 

Henry Abbot, 
Isaac Gregory, 
Peter Dauge, 
Charles Grandy, 
Enoch Sawyer, 
George Lucas, 
John Willis, 

Nathan Keas, 

John G. Blount, 

Thomas Alderson, 

John Johnson, 

Andrew Oliver, 

Goodwin EUiston, 

Charles M'Dowall, 

Richard D. Spaight, John Cade, 

William J. Dawson, Elias Barnes, 

James Porterfield, Neil Brown, 

Wm. Barry GroTe, 

George Elliott, 

Wallis Styron, 

William ohepperd, 

James Philips, 
John Humphreys, 
Michael Payne, 
Charles Johnston, 
Stephen Cabarrus, 

James Winchester, 
William Stokes, 
Thomas Stewart, 
Josiah Collins, 
Thomas Hines, 
Nathaniel Jones, 
John Steele, 
William R. Davie, 
Joseph Reddick, 
James Gregory, 

Johnston, President. 

Thomas Hunter, 

Thomas Wyns, 
Abraham Jones, 
John Eborne, 
James Jasper, 
Caleb Forinan, 
Seth Hovey, 
John Sloan, 
John Moore, 
William Maclaine, 
Nathan Mayo, 
William Slade, 
William M'Kenzie, 
Robert Erwin, 
John Lane, 
Thomas Reading, 
Edward Everagain, 
Enoch Rolfe, 
Devotion Davis, 
William Skinner, 
Joshua Skinner, 

Thomas Heryey, 
John Skinner, 
Samuel Harrel, 
Joseph Leech, 
Wm. Bridges, 
Wm. Burden, 
Edmund Blount, 

Simeon Spruil, 
David Tanner, 
Whitmill Hill, 
Benjamin Smith, 
John Sitffreaves, 
Nathaniel Allen, 
Thomas Owen, 
George Wyns, 
David Perkins, 
Joseph Fe rebec, 
Wm. Ferebee, 
Wm. Baker, 
Abner Neale. 



Messrs. Willie Jones, 
Samuel Spencer, 
Lewis Lanier, 
Thomas Wade, 
Daniel Gould, 
James Bonner, 
Alexius M. Foster, 
Lewis Dupree, 
Thorans Brown, 
James Greenlee, 
Joseph M'Dowall, 
Robert Miller, 
Benjamin Williams, 
Richard Nixon, 
Thomas Armstrong, 
Alex. M'Allister, 
Robert Dickens, 
George Roberts, 
John Womack, 
Ambrose Ramsey, 
James Anderson, 
Jos. Stewart, 
Wm. Vestal, 
Thomas Evans, 
Thomas Hardiman, 
Robert Weakly, 
Wm. Donnelson, 
Wm. Dobins, 
Robert Diggs, 
Bythel Bell, 
Elisha Battle, 

Wm. Fort, 
Etheld. Gray, 
Wm. Lancaster, 
Thomas Sherrod, 
John Norward, 
Sterling Dupree, 
Robert Williams, 
Richard Moye, 
Arthur Forbes, 
David Caldwell, 
Wm. Groudy, 
Daniel Gillespie, 
John Anderson, 
John Hamilton, 
Thomas Person, 
Joseph Taylor, 
Thornton Yancey, 
Howell Lewis, Jun., 
E. Mitchell, 
George Moore, 
George Ledbetter, 
Wm. Porter, 
Zebedee Wood, 
Edmund Waddell, 
James Galloway, 
J. Regan, 
Joseph Winston, 
James Gains, 
Charles M'Annelly, 
Absalom Bostick, 
John Scott, 

John Dunkin, 
David Dodd, 
Curtis Ivey, 
Lewis Holmes, 
Richard Clinton, 
H. Holmes, 
Robert Alison, 
James Stewart, 
John Tipton, 
John Macon, 
Thomas Christmass, 
H. Monfort, 
Wm. Taylor, 
James rfanley, 
Britain Saunders, 
Wm. Lenoir, 
R. Allen, 
John Brown, 
Joseph Herndon, 
James Fletcher, 
Lemuel Burkit, 
Wm. Little, 
Thomas King, 
Nathan Bryan, 
John H. Bryan, 
Edward Whitty, 
Robert Alexander, 
James Johnson, 
John Cox, 
John Carrel, 
Cornelius Doud, 

Thomas Tysop, 
W. Martin, 
Thomas Hunter 

John Graham, 
Wm. Loflin, 
Wm. Kindal, 
Thomas Ussery, 
Thomas Butler, 
John Bentford, 
James Vaughan, 
Robert Peebles, 
James Vinson, 
Wm. S. Marnes, 
Howell Ellin, 
Redman Bunn, 
John Bonds, 
David Pridgen, 
Daniel Yates, 
Thomas Johnston, 
John Spicer, 
A Tatom, 
Alex. Mebane, 
Wm. Mebane, 
Wm. M'Cauley, 
Wm. Sheppera, 

Jonathan Lmley, 
W>att Hawkins, 
James Payne, 
John Graves, 



John Blair, 
Jotcph Tipton, 
Wm. Bethell, 
Abraiiarn Phillipt, 
John May, 
Charles Crallowajr, 
Jaxnefl Bo«well, 
John M'AlIister, 
David Lnoney, 
John Sharpe, 
Jooeph Gaitier. 
John A. Campoell, 
John P. Williams, 
Wm. Marshall, 
Charles Robertson, 
James Gillespie, 

Charles Ward, 
Wm. Randal, 
r lewi luk flargcft, 
Richard M*Kinnie, 
John Cains, 
Jacob Leonard, 
Thomas Carson, 
Richard Singleton, 
James Whitside, 
Caleb Phifer, 
Zachias Wilson, 
Joseph Douglass, 
Thomas Dougan, 
James Kenan, 
John Jones, 
Egbert Haywood, 

Wm. Wootten, 
John Branch, 
"Henry Hill, 
Andrew Bass, 
Joseph Boon, 
Wm. Farmer, 
John Bryan, 
Edward Williams, 
Francis OliTer, 
Matthew Brooks, 
Griffith Rutherford, 
Geo H Barringer, 
Timo. Blood worth, 
Everet Pcarce, 
Asahel Rawlins, 
James Wilson, 

James Roddy, 
iiaiBMel Cain, 
B. Covington, 
J. M'Dowall, Jniu 
Durham Hall, 
Jas Bloodworthf 
Joel Ijane, 
James H in ton, 
Thomas Devane, 
James Brandon, 
Wm. Dickson, 
Bur well Mooring, 
Matthew Locke, 
Stokely Donelsoo. 

Saturday, August 2, 1786. 

The Convention met according to adjournment. 

The report of the committee of the whole Convention, 
according to order, was taken up and read in the same 
words as on yesterday ; when it was moved by Mr. PER- 
SON, and seconded by Mr. MACON, that the Convention 
do concur therewith, which was objected to by Mr. A. 

The question being put, "Will the Convention concur 
with the report of the committee of the whole convention, 
or not?" it was carried in the aflSrmative ; whereupon Mr. 
DAVIE moved for the yeas and nays, and was seconded by 
Mr. CABARRUS. They were accordingly taken ; and 
those who voted yesterday against the amendment, voted 
for concurring with the report of the committee : those who 
voted in favor of the amendment, now voted against a con- 
currence with the report. 

On motion of Mr. WILLIE JONES, and seconded by 
Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY, the following resolution was 
adopted by a large majority, viz.: — 

''Whereas this Convention has thought proper neither to ratify nor 
reject the Constitution proposed for the government of the United States, 
and as Congress will proceed to act under the said Constitution, ten 
states having ratified the same, and probably lay an impost on goods im- 
ported into the said ratifying states, — 

" Resolved, That it be recommended to the legislature of this state, 
that whenever Congress shall pass a law for collecting an impost in the 
states aforesaid, this state enact a law for collecting a similar impost on 
goods imported into this state, and appropriate the money arising there- 
from to the use of Congress/' 

On the motion made by Mr. WILLIE JONES, and 
seconded by Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY,— 


* Resolvdf unanimously, That it be recommended to the General A»> 
sembly to take effectual measures for the redemption of the paper currency, 
as speedily as may be, consistent with the situation and circumstances of 
the people of this state." 

On a motion made by Mr. WILLIE JONES, and sec- 
onded by Mr. JAMES GALLOWAY,— 

*' Resolved, unanimously. That the honorable the president be requested 
to transmit to Congress, and to the executives of New Hampshire, Massa- 
chusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsyl- 
vania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, a copy 
of the resolution of the committee of the whole Convention on the subject 
of the Constitution proposed for the government of the United States, con- 
curred with by this Convention, together with a copy of the resolutions on 
the subject of impost and paper money/' 

The Convention afterwards proceeded to the business of 
/ixing the seat of government, and on Monday, the 4th of 
August, adjourned sine die. 


m. TBS 






Housn OF Reprb8^ntativbs* In the Legislature^ 
WeoNEBDAT, January 16, 1788. 

Read the proposed Federal Constitution, afler which the house resolved 
itseJf into a committee of the whole, Hon. THOMAS BEE in the 


Hon. CHARLES PINCKNEY (one of the delegates of 
the Federal Convention) rose in bis place, and said that, 
although the principles and expediency of the measures pro- 
posed by the late Convention will come more properly into 
discussion before another body, yet, as their appointment 
originated with them, and the legislatures must be the instru« 
ment of submitting the plan to the opinion of the people, it 
became a duty in their delegates to state with conciseness 
the motives which induced it. 

It must be recollected that, upon the conclusion ot tne 
definitive treaty, great inconveniences were experienced, as 
resulting from the inefficacy of the Confederation. The 
one first and most sensibly felt was the destruction of our 
commerce, occasioned! by the restrictions of other nations, 
whose policy it was not in the power of the general govern- 
ment to counteract. The loss of credit, the inability in our 
crtizens to pay taxes, and languor of government, were, as 
they ever must be, the certain consequences of the decay of 
commerce. Frequent and unsuccessful attempts were made 
by Congress to obtain the necessary powers. The statos« 

too, individually attempted, by navigation acts and othei 


^264 DEBATES. [Pincknef. 

commercial provisions, to remedy the evil. These, instead 
of correcting, served but to increase it ; their regulations in- 
terfered not only with each other, but, in almost every 
instance, with treaties existing under the authority of the 
Union. Hence arose the necessity of some general and 
permanent system, which should at once embrace all inter- 
ests, and, by placing the states upon firm and united ground, 
enable them effectually to assert their commercial rights. Sen- 
sible that nothing but a concert of measures could effect this, 
Virginia proposed a meeting of commissioners at Annapolis, 
from the legislature of each state, who should be empowered 
to take into consideration the commerce of the Union ; to 
consider how far a uniform system in their commercial regu- 
lations might be necessary to their common interest ; and to 
report to the states such an act as, when unanimously ratified 
by them, would enable Congress effectually to provide for 
the same. In consequence of this, ten states appointed 
delegates. By accident, or otherwise, they did not attend, 
only five states being represented. The gentlemen present, 
not being a majority of the Union, did not conceive it advi- 
sable to proceed ; but in an address to their constituents, 
which was also transmitted to the other legislatures, ac- 
quainted them with the circumstances of their meeting ; that 
there appeared to them to be other and more material defects 
in the federal system than merely those of commercial pow- 
ers. That these, upon examination, might be found greater 
than even the acts of their appointments implied, was at 
least so far probable, from the embarrassments which mark 
the present state of national affairs, foreign and domestic, as 
to merit, in their opinions, a deliberate and candid discussion 
in some mode which would unite the sentiments and councils 
of all the states. They therefore sugjrested the appointment 
of another convention, under more extensive powers, for the 
purpose of devising such further provisions as should appear 
to them necessary to render the federal government adequate 
to the exi":encies of the Union. 

Under this recommendation the late Convention assem- 
bled ; for most of the appointments had been made before 
the recommendation of Congress was formed or known- 
He thought proper concisely to mention the manner of the 
Convention's assembling, merely to obviate an objection 
which all the opposers of the federal system had used, viz., 


that, at the time the Convention met, no opinion was enter- 
tained of their departing from the Confederation — that 
merely the grant of commercial powers, and the establish- 
ment of a federal revenue, were in agitation ; whereas nothing 
ran be more true, than that its promoters had for their object 
a firm national government. Those who had seriously con- 
templated the subject were fully convinced that a total 
r.hange of system was necessary — that, however the repair 
of the Confederation might for a time avert the inconveni- 
<^nces of a dissolutbn, it was impossible a government of 
that sort could long unite this growing and extensive country. 
They also thought that the public mind was fully prepared 
for the change, and that no time could be more proper for 
introducing it than the present — that the total want of gov- 
ernment, the destruction of commerce, of public credit, 
private confidence, and national character, were surely 
sufficiently alarming to awaken their constituents to a true 
sense of their situation. 

Under these momentous impressions the Convention met, 
when the first question that naturally presented itself to the 
view of almost every member, although it was never formally 
brought forward, was the formation of a new, or the amend- 
ment of the existing system. Whatever might have been the 
opinions of a few speculative men, who either did, or pre- 
tended to, confide more in the virtue of the people than pru- 
dence warranted, Mr. Pinckney said he would venture to as- 
sert that the states were unanimous in preferring a change. 
They wisely considered that, though the Confederation 
might possess the great outlines of a general government, yet 
that it was, in fact, nothing more than a federal union ; or, 
strictly speaking, a league founded in paternal and persuasive 
principles, with nothing permanent and coercive in its con- 
struction, where the members might, or might not, comply 
with their federal engagements, as they thought proper — 
that no power existed of raising supplies but by the requisi- 
tions or quotas on the states — that this defect had been al- 
most fatally evinced by the experience of the states for the 
list six or eight years, in which not one of them had com- 
pletely complied ; but a few had even paid up their specie 
proportions ; others very partially ; and some, he had every 
reason to Ijelieve, had not to this day contributed a shilling 
to the common treasury since the Union was formed* He 


should not go into a detail of the conduct of the states, or the 
unfortunate and emlmrrassing situation to which their inat- 
tention has reduced the Union; these have been so often 
and so strongly represented by Congress, that he was sure 
there could not be a member on the floor unacquainted with 
tliem. It was sufficient to remark that the Convention saw 
and felt the necessity of establishing a government upon dif- 
ferent principles, which, instead of requiring the intervention 
of thirteen different legislatures l)etween the demand and the 
compliance, should operate upon the people in the first in- 

He repeated, that the necessity of having a government 
which should at once operate u\you the people, and not upon 
the states, was conceived to be indispensable by every dele- 
gation present ; that, however they may have differed with 
respect to the quantum of power, no objection was made to, 
the system itself. They considered it, however, highly neces- 
sary that, in the establishment of a constitution possessing 
extensive national authorities, a proper distribution of its 
powers should be attended to. Sensible of the danger of a 
single body, and that to such a council the states ought not 
to intrust important rights, they considered, it their duty to 
divide the legislature into two branches, and, by a limited 
revisionary power, to mingle, in some degree, the executive 
in their proceedings — a provision that he was pleased to find 
meets with universal approbation. The degree of weight 
which each state was to have in the federal council became 
a question of much agitation. The larger states contended 
that no government could long exist whose principles were 
founded in injustice ; that one of the most serious and un- 
answerable objections to the present system was the injustice 
of its tendency in allowing each state an equal vote, not- 
withstanding their striking disparity. The small ones re- 
plied, and perhaps with reason, that, as the states were the 
pillars upon which the general government must ever rest, 
their state ^[overnments must remain ; that, however they 
may vary m pomt of territory or population, as political as- 
sociations they were equal ; that upon these terms they for- 
mally confederated, and that no inducement whatsoever 
should tempt them to unite upon others; that, if they did, it 
would amount to nothing less than throwing the whole gov- 
ernment of the Union into the hands of three or four of the 
largest states. 


After much anxious discussion, — for, had the Convention 
separated without determining upon a plan, it would have been 
on this point, — a compromise was effected, by which it was 
determined that the first branch be so chosen as to represent 
in due proportion the people of the Union ; that the Senate 
should be the representatives of the static, where each should 
have an equal weight. Though he was at first opposed to 
this compromise, yet he was far from thinking it an injudi- 
cious one. The different branches of the legislature being 
intended as checks upon each other, it appeared to him they 
would more effectually restrain their mutual intemperances 
under this mode of representation than they would have done 
if both houses had been so formed upon proportionable prin- 
ciples ; for, let us theorize as much as we will, it will be im- 
possible so far to divest the majority of the federal represent- 
atives of their state views and policy, as to induce them al- 
ways to act upon truly national principles. Men do no 
easily wean themselves of those preferences and attachments 
which country and connections invariably create ; and it must 
frequently have happened, had the larger states acquired that 
decided majority which a proportionable representation would 
have given them in both houses, that state views and policy 
would have influenced their deliberations. The ease with 
which they would, upon all occasions, have secured a ma- 
jority in the legislature, might, in times less virtuous than 
the present, have operated as temptations to designing and 
ambitious men to sacrifice the public good to private views. 
This cannot be the case at present; the different mode of 
representation for the Senate will, as has already been ob- 
served, most effectually prevent it. The purpose of estab- 
lishing different houses of legislation was to introduce the in- 
fluence of different interests and principles ; and he thought 
that we should derive, from this mode of separating the 
legislature into two branches, those benefits which a proper 
complication of principles is capable of producing:, and which 
must, in his judgment, be greater than any evils that may 
arise from their temporary dissensions. 

The judicial he conceived to be at once the most impor- 
tant and intricate part of the system. That a supreme fed- 
eral jurisdiction was indispensable, cannot be denied. It is 
equally true that, in order to insure the administration of 
justice, it was necessary to give it all the powers, original as 
VOL. IV. 33 

2o8 DEBATES. [Pincknet. 

well as appellate, the Constitution has enumerated ; without 
it we could not expect a due observance of treaties — that 
the state judiciary would confine themselves within iheir 

r roper sphere, or that general sense of justice i^ervade the 
Jnion which this part of the Constitution is intended to 
introduce and protect — that much, however, would depend 
upon the wisdom of the legislatures who are to organize it 
— that, from the extensiveness of its powers, it may be 
easily seen that, under a wise management, this department 
might be made the keystone of the arch, the means of con- 
necting and binding the whole together, of preserving uni- 
formity in all the judicial proceedings of the Union — that, 
in republics, much more (in time of peace) would always 
depend upon the energy and integrity of the judicial than 
on any other part of the government — that, to insure these, 
extensive authorities were necessary ; particularly so were 
they in a tribunal constituted as this is, whose duty it would 
be not only to decide all national questions which should 
arise within the Union, but to control and keep the state 
judicials within their proper limits whenever they shall at- 
tempt to interfere with its power. 

And the executive, he said, though not constructed upon 
those firm and permanent principles which he confessed 
would have been pleasing to him, is still as much so as the 
present temper and genius of the people will admit. Though 
many objections had been made to this part of the system, 
he was always at a loss to account for them. That there 
can be nothing dangerous in its powers, even if he was 
disjx^sed to take undue advantages, must be easily discerned 
from reviewing them. He is commander-in-chief of the 
land and naval forces of the Union, but he can neither raise 
nor support forces by his own autiiority. He has a re vision- 
ary power in the making of laws; but if two thirds of both 
houses afterwards agree notwithstanding his negative, the 
law passes. He cannot appoint to an office without the Sen- 
ate concurs ; nor can he enter into treaties, or, in short, take a 
single step in his government, without their advice. He is, 
also, to remain in office but four years. He might ask, then, 
From whence are the dangtTs of the executive to proceed ? 
It may be said. From a combination of the executive and 
the Senate, they might form a baneful aristocracy. 

He had been opposed to connecting the executive and 


the Senate in the discharge of those duties, because their 
union, in his opinion, destroyed that responsibility which the 
Constitution should, in this respect, have been careful to 
establish ; but he had no apprehensions of an aristocracy. 
For his part, he confessed that he ever treated all fears of 
aristocracies or despotisms, in the federal head, as the mos» 
childish chimeras that could be conceived. In a Union ex- 
tensive as this is, composed of so many state governments, 
and inhabited by a people characterized, as our citizens are, by 
an impatience under any act which even looks like an in- 
fringement of their rights, an invasion of them by the federal 
head appeared to him the most remote of all our public 
dangers. So far from supposing a change of this sort at all 
probable, he confessed his apprehensions were of a different' 
kind : he rather feared that it was impossible, while the 
state systems continue — and continue they must — to con- 
struct any government upon republican principles sufficiently 
energetic to extend its influence through all its parts. Near 
the federal seat, its influence may have complete effect; 
hut he much doubted its efficacy in the more remote districts. 
The state governments will too naturally slide into an o|)- 
position against the general one, and be easily induced to 
consider themselves as rivals. They will, after a time, 
resist the collection of a revenue ; and if the general gov- 
ernment is obliged to concede, in the smallest degree, on 
this point, they will of course neglect their duties, and 
despise its authority: a great degree of weight and energy 
is necessary td enforce it ; nor is any thing to be apprehended' 
from them. All power being immediately derived from the 
people, and the state governments being the basis of the 
general one, it will easily be in their power to interfere, and 
to prevent its injuring or invading their rights. Though at 
first he considered some declaration on the subject of trial by 
jury in civil causes, and the freedom of the press, necessary, 
and still thinks it would have been as well to have had it 
inserted, yet he fully acquiesced in the reasoning which was 
used to show that the insertion of them was not essential. 
The distinction which has been taken between the nature of 
a federal and state government appeared to be conclusive — 
ihit in the former, no powers could be executed, or assumed, 
ixit such as were expressly delegated ; that in the latter, the 
indefinite power was given to the government, except on 


points that were by express compact reserved to the 

On the subject of juries, in civil cases, the Convention 
were anxious to make some declaration ; but when they re- 
flected that all courts of admiralty and appeals, being gov- 
erned in their propriety by the civil law and the laws of 
nations, never had, or ought to have, juries, they found it 
impossible to make any precise declaration upon the subject; 
they therefore left it as it was, trusting that the good sense 
of their constituents would never induce them to suppose 
that it could be the interest or intention of the general gov- 
ernment to abuse one of the most invaluable privileges a 
free country can boast; in the loss of which, themselves, 
their fortunes and connections, must be so materially in- 
volved, and to the deprivation of which, except in the cases 
alluded to, the people of this country would never submit. 
When we reflect that the exigencies of the government 
require that a general government upon other principles 
than the present should be established, — when we contem- 
plate the difference between a federal union and a govern- 
ment operating upon the people, and not upon the states, — 
we must at once see the necessity of giving to it the power 
of direct taxation. Without this, it must be impossible for 
them to raise such supplies as are necessary to discharge the 
debts, or sup|)ort the expenses, of the Union — to provide 
against the common dangers, or afford that protection to its 
meml>ers which they have a right to expect from the federal 
head. But here he begged leave to observe that, so far from 
apprehending danger from the exercise of this power, few or 
no inconveniences are to be expected. He had not a doubt 
that, except in time of war, or pressing necessity, a sufficient 
sum would always be raised, by impost, to defray the gen- 
eral expenses. As to the power of raising troops, it was 
unnecessary to remark upon it further than merely to say, 
that this is a power the government at present possesses and 
exercises; a power so essential, that he should very much 
doubt the good sense or information of the man that should 
conceive it improper. It is guarded by a declaration that no 
grants for this pur|)ose shall be longer than two years at a 
time. For his own part, notwithstanding all that had been 
said upon this popular topic, he could not conceive that either 
the dignity of a government could be maintained, its safety 


insured, or its laws administered, without a body of regulai 
forces to aid the magistrate in the execution of his duty. 
All government is a kind of restraint. We may be told, a 
free government imposes no restraint upon the private wilb 
of individuals which does not conduce in a greater degree to 
the public happiness; but all government is restraint, and 
founded in force. We are the first nation who have ever 
held a contrary opinion, or even attempted to maintain one 
without it. The experiment has been made, and he trusted 
there would hereafter be few men weak enough to suppose 
that some regular force ought not to be kept up, or that the 
militia ever can be depended upon as the support or pro- 
tection of the Union. 

Upon the whole, he could not but join those in opinion 
who have asserted that this is the best government that 
has ever yet been offered to the world, and that, instead of 
being alarmed at its consequences, we should be astonish- 
ingly pleased that one so perfect could have been formed 
from such discordant and unpromising materials. In a sys- 
tem founded upon republican principles, where the j)owers 
of government are properly distributed, and each confined 
to a separate body of magistracy, a greater degree of force 
and energy will always be found necessary than even in a 
monarchy. This arises from the national spirit of union be- 
ing stronger in monarchies than in republics : it is said to be 
naturally strong in monarchies, because, in the absence both 
of manners and principles, the compeUing power of the sov- 
ereign collects and draws every thing to a point ; and thereby, 
in all common situations, effectually supplies their place. 
But in free countries it is naturally weak, unless supported 
by public spirit; for as, in most cases, a full spirit of national 
union will require that the separate and partial views ot 
private interest be on every occasion sacrificed to the general 
welfare, so, when this principle prevails not, (and it will 
Dnly prevail in moments of enthusiasm,) the national union 
must ever be destroyed by selfish views and private interest. 
He said that, with respect to the Union, this can only be 
remedied by a strong government, which, while it collects 
its powers to a point, will prevent that spirit of disunion from 
which the most serious consequences are to be apprehended. 
He begged leave, for a moment, to examine what effect this 
spin* of disunion must have upon us, as we may be affected 

9Jb^ DEBATES. LPinchnbi 

by a foreign enemy. It weakens the consistency of all 
public measures, so that no extensive scheme of thought can 
be carried into action, if its accomplishment demand any 
long continuance of time. It weakens not only the consist- 
ency, but the vigor and expedition, of all public measures ; 
so that, while a divided people are contending about the 
means of security or defence, a united enemy may surprise 
and invade them. These are the apparent consequences of 
disunion. Mr. Pinckney confessed, however, that, after all 
that had been said upon the subject, our Constitution was in 
some measure but an experiment; nor was it possible yet to 
form a just conclusion as to its practicability. 

It had been an opinion long established, that a republican 
form of government suited only the affairs of a small state ; 
which opinion is founded in the consideration, that unless the 
people in every district of the empire be admitted to a share 
in the national representation, the government is not to them 
as a republic ; that in a democratic constitution, the mech- 
anism is too complicated, the motions too slow, for the oper- 
ations of a great empire, whose defence and government 
require execution and despatch in proportion to the magni- 
tude, extent, and variety of its concerns. There was, no 
doubt, weight in these reasons; but much of the objection, 
he thought, would be done away by the continuance of a 
federal republic, which, distributing the country into districts, 
or states, of a commodious extent, and leaving to each state 
its internal legislation, reserves unto a superintending gov- 
ernment the adjustment of their general claims, the complete 
direction of the <:ommon force and treasure of the empire. 
To what limits such a republic might extend, or how far it 
is capable of UAiiting the liberty of a small commonwealth 
with the safety of a peaceful empire; or whether, amon^ 
coordinate powers, dissensions and jealousies would not arise, 
which, for want of a common superior, might proceed to 
fatal extremities, — are questions upon which he did not 
recollect the example of any nation to authorize us to decide, 
because the experiment has never been yet fairly made. We 
are now a tout to make it upon an extensive scale, and under 
circumstances so promising, that he considered it the fairest 
experiment that hctd been ever made in favor of human 
nature. He concluded with expressmg a thorough convic- 
aon that the firm establishment of the present system ih 


better calculated lo answer the great ends of public hapuines^ 
than any that has yet been devised. 

A long debate arose on reading the Constitution in para- 
graphs ; but, on a division, there appeared to be a majority 
against it. 

Hon. ROBERT BARNWELL hoped gentlemen would 
confine themselves to the principles of this Constitution 
An honorable member had already given much valuable in- 
formation as reasons that operated in the Convention, so that 
they were now able to lay before their constituents the ne 
cessity of bringing forward this Constitution. 

Judge PENDLETON read a paragraph in the Constitu 
tion, which says " the Senate shall have the sole power of 
impeachment." In the British government, and all govern- 
ments where power is given to make treaties of peace, pr 
declare war, there had been found necessity to annex respon- 
sibility. In England, particularly, ministers that advised 
illegal measures were liable to impeachment, for advising the 
king. Now, if justice called for punishment of treachery 
in the Senate, on account of giving bad advice, before what 
tribunal could they be arraigned ? Not surely before their 
house; that was absurd to suppose. Nor could the Presi- 
dent be impeached for making treaties, he acting only under 
advice of the Senate, without a power of negativing. 

Maj. PIERCE BUTLER (one of the delegates of the 
Federal Convention) was one of a committee that drew up 
this clause, and would endeavor to recollect those reasons by 
which they were g:uided. It was at first proposed to vest the 
sole |)ower of making peace or war in the Senate ; but this 
was objected to as inimical to the genius of a republic, by 
destroying the necessary balance they were anxious to pre- 
serve. Some gentlemen were inclined to give this power to 
the President; but it was objected to, as throwing into his 
hands the influence of a monarch, having an opportunity of 
involving his country in a war whenever he wished to pro- 
mote her destruction. The House of Representatives was 
then named ; but an insurmountable objection was made to this 
proposition — which was, that negotiations always required 
the greatest secrecy, which could not be expected in a large 
iiod)'. The honorable gentleman then gave a clear, concise 
opinion on the propriety of the proposed Constitution. 



of the delegates of the Federal Convention) observed, that 
the honorable judge, from his great penetration, had hit upon 
one of those difficult points which for a long time occasioned 
much debate in the Convention. Indeed, this subject ap- 
peared to be of so much magnitude, that a committee con- 
sisting of one member from each state was appointed to 
consider and report upon it. His honorable friend (Major 
Butler) was on the committee for this state. Some members 
were for vesting the power for making treaties in the legis- 
lature ; but the secrecy and despatch which are so frequently 
necessary in negotiations evinced the impropriety of vesting 
it there. The same reason showed the impropriety of pla- 
cing it solely in the House of Representatives. A few mem- 
bers were desirous that the President alone might possess 
this power, and contended that it might safely be lodged 
with him, as he was to be responsible for his conduct, and 
therefore would not dare to make a treaty repugnant to the 
interest of his country ; and from his situation he was more 
interested in making a good treaty than any other man in 
the United States. This doctrine General Pinckney said he 
could not acquiesce in. Kings, he admitted, were in general 
more interested in the welfare of their country than any 
other individual in it, because the prosperity of the country 
tended to increase the lustre of the crown, and a king never 
could receive a sufficient compensation for the sale of his 
kingdoms ; for he could not enjoy in any other country so 
advantageous a situation as he permanently possessed in his 
own. Hence kings are less liable to foreign bribery and 
corruption than any other set of men, because no bribe that 
could be given them could compensate the loss they must 
necessarily sustain for injuring their dominions ; indeed, he 
did not at present recollect any instance of a king who had 
received a bribe from a foreign power, except Charles H., 
who sold Dunkirk to Louis aIV. But the situation of a 
President would be very different from that of a king : he 
might withdraw himself from the United States, so that the 
states could receive no advantage from his responsibility ; 
his office is not to be permanent, but temporary ; and he 
might receive a bribe which would enable him to live, in 
gniater splendor in another country than his own ; and when 
out of office, he was no more interested in the prosperity of 
his country than any ither patriotic citizen : and in franiins 


a treaty, he might j^erhaps show an improper partiality for 
the state to which he particularly belonged. The different 
propositions made on this subject, the general observed, oc- 
casioned much debate. At last it was agreed to give the 
President a power of proposing treaties, as he was the osten- 
sible head of the Union, and to vest the Senate (where each 
Slate had an equal voice) with the power of agreeing or dis- 
agreeing to the terms proposed. This, in some measure, 
took away their responsibility, but not totally ; for, though 
the Senate were to be judges on impeachments, and the 
members of it would not probably condemn a measure they 
had agreed to confirm, yet, as they were not a permanent 
body, they might be tried hereafter by other senators, and 
condemned, if they deserved it. On the whole, a large ma- 
jority of the Convention thought this power would be more 
safely lodged where they had finally vested it, than any 
where else. It was a power that must necessarily be lodged 
somewhere : political caution and republican jealousy ren- 
dered it improper for us to vest it in the President alone ; 
the nature of negotiation, and the frequent recess of the 
House of Representatives, rendered that body an improper 
depository of this prerogative. The President and Senate 
joined were, therefore, after much deliberation, deemed the 
most eligible corps in whom we could with safety vest the 
diplomatic authority of the Union. 

Hon. RAWLINS LOWNDES could not consider the 
representation of two thirds in the Senate as equal to the old 
Confederation, which required nine states. By this new 
Constitution, a quorum in the Senate might consist only of 
fourteen ; two thirds of which were ten. Now, was this 
any thing like a check equal to the present ? Was it con- 
sistent with prudence to vest so much power in the hands of 
so small a body of men, who might supersede every existing 
law in the Union ? Here he read the 2d clause in the 6th 
article of the Constitution, viz. : " This Constitution, and the 
laiVs of the United States which shall be made in pursuance 
thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, 
under the authority of the United States, shall be the su- 
preme law of the land ; and the judges in every state shall 
be bound thereby — any thing in the Constitution or laws of 
any state to the contrary notwithstanding." Now, in the 
history of the known world, was there an instance of the 
VOL. IV. 34 23 


rulers of a republic being allowed to go so far ? Even the 
most arbitrary kings possessed nothing like it. The tyran- 
nical Henry VIII. had power given him by Parliament to 
issue proclamations that should have the same force as laws 
of the land ; but this unconstitutional privilege had been 
justly reprobated and exploded. The king of France, though 
a despotic prince, (he meant no reflection on that prince ; 
his opinion was very well known,) yet could not enforce his 
edicts until they had been registered in Parliament. In 
England, the ministers proceed with cijution in niaking trea- 
ties : far from being considered as legal without parliament- 
ary sanction, the preamble always stated that his majesty 
would endeavor to get it ratified by his Parliament. He ob- 
served, tliat the clause entirely did away the instalment law ; 
for, when this Constitution came to he established, the treaty 
of peace might be pleaded against the relief which that law 
afforded. The honorable gentleman cpmmented on the ex- 
tensive powers given to the President, who was not, he be- 
lieved, likely ever to be chosen from South Carolina or 

to obviate some of the objections made by the honorable 
gentleman who sat down, and whose arguments, he thought, 
were calculated ad captandum, and did not coincide with 
that ingenuous, fair mode of reasoning he in general made 
use of. The treaty could not be construed to militate against 
our laws now in existence ; and while we did not make, by 
law, any distinction between our citizens and foreigners 
foreigners would be content. The treaty had been enrolled 
in the prothonotary's office by the express order of the judges. 
It had been adjudged, in a variety of cases, to be part of the 
law of the land, and had been admitted to be so whenever it 
was pleaded. If this had not been the case, and any indi- 
vidual state i)ossessed a right to disregard a treaty made by 
Congress, no nation would have entered into a treaty with us. 

The comparison made between kings and our President 
was not a proper one. Kings are, in general, hereditary, in 
whose appointment the people have no voice ; whereas, in the 
(lection of our President, the people have a voice, and the 
state of South Carolina hath a thirteenth share in his appomt- 
ment. In the election of senators. South Carolina has an 
rqual vote with any other state ; so has Georgia ; and if we 


have a man as fit for the office of President in this state as in 
others, he did not think the being a southern man could be an 
objection. More than one president of Congress had been 
taken from this state. If we should not be represented in 
the Senate, it would be our own Aiult ; the mode of voting 
in that body per capita^ and not by states, as formerly, would 
be a strong inducement to us to keep up a full rej)resenta- 
tion : the alteration was approved by every one of the Con- 
vention who had been a member of Congress. He then 
mentioned several instances of difficulties which he had been 
informed had occurred in Congress in determining questions 
of vast importance to the Union, on account of the members 
voting as states, and not individually. He did not think the 
Southern States would be remiss in keeping a full representa- 
tion. Experience proved that the Eastern and the Southern 
States were most punctual in attendance. He understood 
that it was the Middle ones that principally neglected this 

Hon. JOHN RUTLEDGE (one of the delegates of the 
Federal Convention) thought the gentleman mistaken both 
as to law and fact ; for every treaty was law paramount, and 
must operate. [Read part of the 9th article of Confedera- 
tion.] In England, treaties are not necessarily ratified, as 
was proved when the British Parliament took up the last 
treaty of peace. A vote of disapprobation dispossessed Lord 
Shelburne, the minister, of his place ; the Commons only 
addressed the king for having concluded a peace ; yet this 
treaty is binding in our courts and in England. In that 
country, American citizens can recover debts due to them 
under the treaty ; and in this, but for the treaty, what vio- 
lences would have taken place ! What security had violent 
tories, stealers of horses, and a number of lawless men, but a 
law that we passed for recognizing the treaty ? There might 
have been some offenders punished ; but if they had obtained 
a writ o( habeas corpus^ no doubt they would have been re- 
lieved. There was an obvious difference between treaties 
of peace and those of commerce, because commercial treaties 
frequently clashed with the laws upon that subject; so that 
It was necessary to be ratified in Parliament. As a proof 
that our present Articles of Confederation were paramount, 
it was there expressed that France should enjoy certain privi- 
leges. Now, supposing any law had passed taking those 

268 DEBATES. [Pringlb 

privileges awaj, would not the treaty be a sufficient bar tc 
any local or municipal laws? What sort of power is that 
which leaves individuals in full power to reject or approver 
Suppose a treaty was unexpectedly concluded between two 
nations at war ; could individual subjects ravage and plunder 
under letters of marque and reprisal ? Certainly not. The 
treaty concluded, even secretly, would be a sufficient bar to 
the establishment. Pray, what solid reasons could be urged 
to support gentlemen's fears that our new governors would 
wish to promote measures injurious to their native land ? 
Was it not more reasonable that, if every state in the Union 
had a negative voice, a single state might be tampered with, 
and defeat every good intention ? Adverting to the objection 
relative to the instalment law being done away, he asked, 
supposing a person gave security conformable to that law, 
whether, judging from precedent, the judges would permit 
any further proceedings contrary to it. He scouted the idea 
that only ten members would ever be left to manage the 
business of the Senate ; yet, even if so, our delegates might 
be part of that ten, and consequently our interest secured. 
He described difficulties experienced in Congress in 1781 
and 1782. In those times business of vast importance stood 
still because nine states could not be kept together. Having 
said that the laws would stand exactly as they did before, 
the chancellor asked whether gentlemen seriously could sup- 
pose that a President, who has a character at stake, would 
be such a fool and knave as to join with ten others to tear 
up liberty by the roots, when a full Senate were competent 
ro impeach him. 

Hon. RALPH IZARD gave a clear account of the man- 
ner in which edicts are registered in France, which, how- 
ever, were legal without that ceremony. Even the kings of 
£ngland had power to make treaties of peace or war. In 
the congress held at Utrecht, two treaties were agreed upon, 
one relative to peace, the other of commerce ; the latter was 
not ratified, being found to clash with some laws in exist- 
ence ; yet the king's right to make it was never disputed. 

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John Julius Pringle) said, that in 
general he paid great deference to the opinions of the gentle- 
man, (Mr. Lowndes,) because they flowed from good natural 
sense, matured by much reflection and experience. On this 
occasion, he entirely disagreed with him. The gentleman 


appeared extremely alarmed by a phantom of his own crea- 
tion — a phantom, like every other, without body or sub- 
stance, and which will vanish as soon as touched. If the 
objections which we may have to other parts of the Constitu- 
tion be no better founded than to this article, the Constitu- 
tion will pass through the medium of this house, like gold 
through the crucible, the purer, and with much' greater lustre. 
His objections will only serve to confirm the sentiments of those 
who favor it. All the gentleman's objections may be com- 
prised in the following compass: By the article, the Presi- 
dent, with ten senators, if only ten attend, may make 
treaties to bind all the states — that the treaties have the 
force of, and indeed are paramount to, the laws of the land 
— therefore, the President and Senate have a legislative 
power; and then he gives scope to a great deal of declama- 
tion on the vast danger of their having such legislative power, 
and particularly that they might have a treaty which might 
thus repeal the instalment law. This is a greater power, he 
says, than the king of France has ; the king of Great Britain 
has his ratified by Parliament — the treaties of the French 
king must be registered. But he conceived the gentleman 
was mistaken as to those treaties made by these monarchs. 
The king of France registers his edicts on some occasions, to 
facilitate the execution, but not his treaties. The king of 
Great Britain's treaties are discussed bv Parliament, not for 
ratification, but to discover whether the ministers deserve 
censure or approbation. The making of treaties is justly a 
part of their prerogative : it properly belongs to the execu- 
tive part of government, because they must be conducted 
with despatch and secrecy not to be expected in larger as- 
semblies. No such dangers as the g:entleman apprehends 
can ensue from vestin"r it with the President and Senate. 
Although the treaties they make may have the force of laws 
when made, they have not, therefore, legislative power. It 
would be dangerous, indeed, to trust them with the power 
of making laws to affect the rights of individuals ; for this 
might tend to the oppression of individuals, who could not 
obtain redress. All the evils would, in that case, flow from 
blending the legislative, executive, and judicial powers. 
This would violate the soundest principles of policy and gov- 
ernment. It is not with regard to the power of making 
treaties as of legislation in general. The treaties will aflerf 

270 DEBATES. [Pincknef; 

all the individuals equally of all the states. If the President 
and Senate make such as violate the fundamental laws, and 
subvert the Constitution, or tend to the destruction of the 
happiness and liberty of the states, the evils, equally oppress- 
ing all, will be removed as soon as felt, as those who are 
oppressed have the power and means of redress. Such 
Treaties, not being made with good faith, and on the broad 
basis of reciprocal interest and convenience, hut by treachery 
and a betraying of trust, and by exceeding the powers with 
which the makers were intrusted, ought to he annulled. No 
nations would keep treaties thus made. Indeed, it is too 
much the practice for them to make mutual interest and con- 
venience the rule of observation, or period of duration. As 
for the danger of repealing the instalment law, the gentle- 
man has forgot that one article ordains that there shall be no 
retrospective law. The President and Senate will, therefore, 
hardly ever make a treaty that would be of this kind. After 
other arguments to obviate the objections of the honorable 
gentleman, Mr. Speaker concluded with saying, that it was 
not necessary for him to urge what further occurred to him, 
as he saw several of the honorable members of the Conven- 
tion preparing, whose duty it more particularly was, and 
who were more able to confute the honorable gentleman in 

Dr. DAVID RAMSAY asked if the gentleman meant us 
ever to have any treaties at all. If not superior to local laws, 
who will trust them ? Would not the question naturally be, 
"Did you mean, when you made treaties, to fulfil them?" 
Establish once such a doctrine, and where will vou find am- 
bassadors ? If gentlemen had been in the situation of 
receiving similar information with himself, they would have 
heard letters read from our ambassadors abroad, in which 
loud complaints were made that America had l)ecome faith- 
less and dishonest. Was it not full time that such conduct 
as this should he amended ? 

to mention some instances he had omitted of the treaty with 
Great Britain bein": considered in our courts as part of the 
law of the land, 'the judge who held the court at Ninety- 
six discharged upwards of one hundred recognizances of per- 
sons committed for different crimes, which fell within the 
meaning ol this treaty. A man named Love, accused of 


murder^ was liberated. It is true, the people, enraged at the 
enormity of his conduct, hanged him soon after ; l>ut of this 
the judicial power knew nothing until after its perpetration. 
Another murderer was allowed to plead the treaty of peace 
in bar, that had conducted General Pickens's brother into 
the hands of the Indians, who soon after put him to death. 

Hon. RAWLINS LOWNDES desired gentlemen to con- 
sider that his antagonists were mostly gentlemen of the law, 
who were capable of giving ingenious explanations to such 
points as they wished to have adopted. He explained his 
opinion relative to treaties to be, that no treaty concluded 
contrary to the express laws of the land could be valid. 
The king of England, when he concluded one, did not think 
himself warranted to go further than to promise that he 
would endeavor to induce his Parliament to sanction it. 
The security of a republic is jealousy; for its ruin may be 
expected from unsuspecting security. Let us not, therefore, 
receive this proffered system with implicit confidence, as 
carrying with it the stamp of superior perfection ; rather let 
us compare what we already possess with what we are of- 
fered for it. We are now under the government of a most 
excellent constitution, one that had stood the test of time, 
and carried us through difficulties generally supposed to be 
insurmountable ; one that had raised us high in the eyes of 
all nations, and given to us the enviable blessings of liberty 
and independence ; a constitution sent like a blessing from 
Heaven ; yet we are impatient to change it for another, that 
vested power in a few men to pull down that fabric, which 
we had raised at the expense of our blood. Charters ought 
to be considered as sacred things. In England, an attempt 
was made to alter the charter of the East India Company ; 
but they invoked heav(?n and earth ' in their cause ; moved 
lords, nay, even the king, in their behalf, and thus averted 
the ruin with which they were threatened. 

It has been said that this new government was to be con- 
sidered as an experiment. He really was afraid it would 
prove a fatal one to our peace and happiness. An experi- 
ment! What, risk the loss of political existence on experi- 
ment! No, sir; if we are to make experiments, rather let 
them be such as may do good, but which cannot oossibly do 
any injury to us or our posterity. So far from leaving any 
expectation of success from such experiments, he sincerelv 

272 DEBATES. [Lowndes. 

belie\ed that, when this new Constitution should be adopted, 
che sun of the Southern States would set, never to rise 

To prove this, he observed, that six of the Eastern States 
formed a majority in the House of Representatives. In the 
enumeration he passed Rhode Ishtnd, and inchided PennsjU 
vania. Now, was it consonant with reason, with wisdom, 
with policy, to suppose, in a legishiture where a majority 
of persons sat whose interests were greatly different from 
ours, that we had the smallest chance of receiving adequate 
advantages ? Certainly not. He believed the gentlemen 
that went from this state, to represent us in Convention, 
possessed as much integrity, and stood as high in point of 
character, as any gentlemen that could have been selected ; 
and he also believed that they had done every thing in their 
power to procure for us a proportionate share in this new 
government; but the very little they had gained proved 
what we may expect in future — that the interest of the 
Northern States would so predominate as to divest us of any 
pretensions to the title of a republic. In the first place, what 
cause was there for jealousy of our importing negroes? Why 
confine us to twenty years, or rather why limit us at all ? 
For his part, he thought this trade could be justified on the 
principles of religion, humanity, and justice ; for certainly to 
tmnslate a set of human beings from a bad country to a 
better, was fulfilling every part of these principles. But 
they don't like our slaves, because they have none them- 
selves, and therefore want to exclude us from this great ad- 
vantage. Why should the Southern States allow of this, 
without the consent of nine states? 

Judge PENDLETON observed, that only three states, 
Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, allowed the 
importation of negroes. Virginia had a clause in her Con- 
stitution for this purpose, and Maryland, he believed, even 
before the war, prohibited them. 

Mr. LOWNDES continued — that we had a law pro- 
hibiting the importation of negroes for three vears. a law he 
greatly approved of; but there was no reason offered why 
the Southern States might not find it necessary to alter their 
conduct, and open their ports. Without negroes, this state 
would degenerate into one of the most contemptible in the 
Hnion ; and he cited an expression that fell from General 


Pinckney on a former debate, that whilst there remained one 
acre of swamp-land in South Carolina, he should raise hi» 
voice against restricting the importation of negroes. Even 
in granting the importation for twenty years, care had been 
taken to make us pay for this indulgence, each negro being 
liable, on importation, to pay a duty not exceeding ten dol 
lars ; and, in addition to this, they were liable to a capitation 
tax. Negroes were our wealth, our only natural resource ; 
yet behold how our kind friends in the north were deter 
mined soon to tie up our hands, and drain us of what we 
had ! The Eastern States drew their means of subsistence, 
in a great measure, from their shipping; and, on that head, 
they had been particularly careful not to allow of any bur- 
dens : they were not to pay tonnage or duties ; no, not even 
the form of clearing out : all ports were free and open to 
them! Why, then, call this a reciprocal bargain, which took 
all from one party, to bestow it on the other ! 

Major BUTLER observed, that they were to pay five [XJi 
cent, impost. 

This, Mr. LOWNDES proved, must fall upon the con- 
sumer. They are to be the carriers; and, we being the 
consumers, therefore all expenses would fall upon us. A 
great number of gentlemen were captivated with this nenv 
Constitution, because those who were in debt would be conk 
pelled to pay ; others pleased themselves with the reflectloii / 
that no more confiscation laws would l)e passed ; but those 
were small advantages, in proportion to the evils that might 
be apprehended from the laws that might be passed by Con- 
gress, whenever there was a majority of representatives from 
the Eastern States, who w:ere governed by prejudices and 
ideas extre.nely different from ours. He was afraid, in the 
present instance, that so much partiality prevailed for this 
new Constitution, that opposition from him would be fruit- 
loss : however, he felt so much the importance of the subject,, 
that he hoped the house would indulge him in a few words,, 
to take a view, comparatively, of the old constitution and- 
the new one, in point of modesty. Congress, lalwring under- 
many dif!iculties, asked to regulate commerce for twenty-one- 
years, when the power reverted into the hamls of those who> 
originally gave it ; but this infallible new Constitution eased 
«is of any more trouble, for it was to regulate commerce ad 
infinitum ; and thus called upon us to pledge ourselves and 
VOL. IV. 33 

274 DEBATES. [Rutlbdgb. 

posterity, forever, iu support of their measures ; so when our 
lociil legislature had dwindled down to the confined powers 
of a corporation, we should he liable to taxes and exrise ; 
not, perhaps, payable in paper, but in specie. However, 
they need not be uneasy, since every thing would be managed 
in future by great men ; and great men, every body knew, 
were incapable of acting under mistake or prejudice: they 
were infallible; so that if, at any future period, we should 
smart under laws which bore hard upon us, and think proper 
to remonstrate, the answer would probably be, "Go: you 
are totally incapable of managing for yourselves. Go : mind 
your private affairs; trouble not yourselves with public con- 
cerns — 'Mind your business.'" The latter expression was 
already the motto of some coppers in circulation, and he 
thought it would soon be the style of language held out to- 
wards the Southern States. The honorable member apolo- 
gized for going into the merits of this new Constitution, 
when it was ultimately to be decided on by another tribu- 
nal; but understanding that he differed in opinion with his 
constituents, who were opposed to electing any person as a 
member of the Convention that did not approve of the pro- 
posed plan of government, he should not therefore have an 
opportunity of expressing those sentiments which occurred 
to him on considerinjj the plan for a new federal government. 
But if it was sanctioned by the people, it would have his 
hearty concurrence and sup|)ort. He was very much, origi- 
nally, against a declaration of independency ; he also opposed 
the instalment law; but when they received the approbation 
of the people, it became his duty, as a good citizen, to pro- 
mote their due observance. 

Hon. E. RUTLEDGE was astonished to hear the honor- 
able gentleman pass such eulogium on the old Confederation, 
and prefer it, as he had done, to the one before the house. 
For his part, he thought that Confederation so very weak, so 
very inadequate to the purposes of the Union, that, unless it 
was materially altered, the sun of American inde|)endence 
would indeed soon set — never to rise again. What could 
be effected for America under that highly-extolled constitu- 
tion ? Could it obtain security for our commerce in any 
parr of the world ? Could it force obedience to any one 
law of the Union? Could it obtain one shilling of money 
for rhe discharge of the most honorable obligations? The 


honorable gentleman knew it could not. Was there a single 
power in Europe that would lend us a guinea on the faith 
of that Confederation? or could we borrow one on the pub- 
lic faith of our own citizens ? The people of America had 
seen these things ; they had felt the consequences of this 
feeble government, if that deserved the name of government 
which had no power to enforce laws founded on solemn com- 
pact ; and it was under the influence of those feelings that 
with almost one voice, they had called for a different govern- 
ment. But the honorable gentleman had said that this gov- 
ernment hud carried us gloriously through the last war. Mr. 
Rutledge denied the assertion. It was true we had passed 
gloriously through the war while the Confederation was in 
existence ; but that success was not to be attributed to the 
Confederation ; it was to be attributed to the firm and uncon- 
querable spirit of the people, who were determined, at the 
hazard of every consequence, to oppose a submission to Brit- 
ish government; it was to be attributed to the armaments 
of an ally, and the pecuniary assistance of our friends: these 
were the wings on which' we were carried so triumphantly 
through the war; and not this wretched Confederation, which 
is unable, by universal acknowledgment, to obtain a dis- 
charge of any part of our debts in the hour of the most 
perfect domestic tranquillity. What benefits, then, are to be 
expected from such a constitution in the day of danger? 
Without a ship, without a soldier, without a shilling in the 
federal treasury, and without a nervous government to obtain 
one, we hold the property that we now enjoy at the courtesy 
of other powers. VVas this such a tenure as was suitable to 
the inclinations of our constituents ? It certainly was not. 
They had called upon us to change their situation, and we 
should betray their interest, and our own honor, if we neg- 
lected it. But the gentleman has said that there were 
points in this new confederation which would endanger the 
rights of the people — that the President and ten senators 
may make treaties, and that the balance between the states 
was not sufficiently preserved — that he is for limiting the 
powers of Congress, so that they shall not be able to do 
any harm ; for, if they have the power to do any harm, 
they miy. To this Mr. Rutledge observed, that the greatest 
part of the honorable gentleman's objection was founded on 
an opinion that the choice of the people would fall on the 
most worthless and the most negligent part of the com 


inunity ; but if it was to be admitted, it would go to the 
withholding of all power from all public l)odies. The gen- 
tleman would have done well to have defined the kind of 
power that could do no harm. The very idea of power inclu- 
ded a possibility of doing harm ; and if the gentleman would 
show the power that could do no harm, he would at once 
discover it to be a power which could do no good. To 
argue against the use of a thing from the abuse of it, had 
long since been exploded by all sensible people. It was 
true that the President, with the concurrence of two thirds 
of the Senate, might make treaties; and it was possible that 
ten senators might constitute the two thirds, but it was just 
within the reach of possibility, and a possibility from whence 
no danger could be apprehended. If the President or the 
senators abused their trust, they were liable to impeachment 
and punishment ; and the fewer that were concerned in the 
abuse of the trust, the more certain would be the punishment. 
In the formation of this article, the delegates had done their 
duty fully ; they had provided that two thirds of the Senate 
should concur in the making of treaties. If the states should 
be negligent in sending their senators, it would be their own 
fault, and the injury would be theirs, not the framers of the 
Constitution ; but if they were not negligent, they would 
have more than their share. Is it not astonishing that the 
gentleman who is so strenuous an advocate for the powers 
of the people, should distrust the people the moment that 
power is given to them, and should found his objections to 
this article in the corruption of the representatives of the 
people, and in the negligence of the people themselves? If 
such objections as these have any weight, they tend to the 
destruction of all confidence — the withholding of all power 
— the annihilation of all government. Mr. Rutledge insist 
ed that we had our full share in the House of Represent- 
atives, and that the gentleman's fears of the northern interest 
prevailing at all times were ill-founded. The Constitution 
had provided for a census of the people, and the number of 
representatives was to be directed by the numl)er of the 
people in the several states ; this clause was highly favorable 
to the southern interest. Several of the Northern States 
were already full of people: it was otherwise with us; the 
migrations to the south were immense, and we should, in the 
course of a few years, rise high in our representation, whiUt 


other states would keep their present position. Gentlemeu 
should carry their views into futurity, and not confine them- 
selves to the narrow limits of a day, when contemplating a 
subject of such vast importance. The gentleman had com- 
plained of the inequality of the taxes between the Northern 
and Southern States ; that ten dollars a head was imposed 
on the importation of negroes ; and that those negroes were 
afterwards taxed. To this it was answered, that the ten 
dollars per head was an equivalent to the five per cent, on 
imported articles ; and as to their l)eing afterwards taxed, 
the advantage is on our side, or, at least, not against us. 

In the Northern States the labor is performed by white 
people, in the Southern by black. All the free people (and 
there are few others) in the Northern States are to be taxed 
by the new Constitution ; whereas only the free people, and 
two fifths of the slaves, in the Southern States, are to be 
rated, in the apportioning of taxes. But the principal objec- 
tion is, that no duties are laid on shipping ; that, in fact, the 
carrying trade was to be vested, in a great measure, in the 
Americans; that the ship-building business was principally 
carried on in the Northern States. When this subject is 
duly considered, the Southern States should be the last to 
object to it. Mr. Rutledge then went into a consideration 
of the subject ; after which the house adjourned. 

Thursday, January 17, 1788. 

served, that the honorable gentleman (Mr. Lowndes) who 
opposed the new Constitution had asserted that treaties made 
under the old Confederation were not deemed p-irainoniit to 
the laws of the land, and that treaties made by the king of 
Great Britain required the ratification of ParliamtMit to ren- 
der them valid. The honorable gentleman is surely mistaken 
in his assertion. His honorable friend (Chancellor Rut- 
ledge) hnd clearly shown that, by the 6th, 9th, and 13th 
Articles of the old Confederation, Congress have a power to 
make treaties, and each state is pledged to observe them ; 
and it appears, from the debates of the English Parliament, 
that the House of Commons did not ratify, but actually cen- 
sure, the peace made by the king of Great Britain with 
America ; yet the very members who censured it acknowl- 
edged it was binding on the nation. [Here the general 


*276 . DEBATES. [Piwcknet 

read extracts from the parliamentary debates of the 17th and 
21st of February, 1784.] Indeed, the doctrine that the king 
of Great Britain may make a treaty with a foreign state, 
which shall irrevocably bind his subjects, is asserted by the 
best writers on the laws and constitution of England — par- 
ticularly by Judge Blackstone, who, in the first book of his 
Commentaries, (ch. 7, p. 257,) declares " that it is the king's 
prerogative to make treaties, leagues, and alliances, with 
foreign states and prhices, and that no other power in the 
kingdom can legally delay, resist, or annul them." If trea- 
ties entered into by Congress are not to be held in the same 
sacred light in America, what foreign nation will have any 
confidence in us ? Shall we not be stigmatized as a faith- 
less, unworthy people, if each member of the Union may, 
with impunity, violate the engagements entered into by the 
federal government? Who will confide in us? Who will 
treat with us if our practice should be conformable to this 
doctrine ? Have we not been deceiving all nations, by hold- 
ing forth to the world, in the 9th Article of the old Confeder- 
ation, that Congress may make treaties, if we, at the same 
time, entertain this improper tenet, that each state may vio- 
late them ? I contend that the article in the new Constitu- 
tion, which says that treaties shall be paramount to the laws 
of the land, is only declaratory of what treaties were, in fact, 
under the old compact. They were as much the law of the 
land under that Confederation, as they are under this Con- 
stitution ; and we shall be unworthy to be ranked among 
civilized nations if we do not consider treaties in this view. 
Vattel, one of the best writers on the law of nations, says, 
" There would be no more security, no longer any commerce 
between mankind, did they not believe themselves obliged 
to preserve their faith, and to keep their word. Nations, 
and their conductors, ought, then, to keep their promises and 
their treaties inviolable. This great truth is acknowledged 
by all nations. Nothing adds so great a glory to a prince 
and the nation he governs, as the reputation of an inviolable 
fidelity to his engagements. By this, and their bravery, the 
Swiss have rendered themselves respectable throughout 
Europe. This national greatness of soul is the source of 
immortal glory ; upon it is founded the confidence of nations, 
and it thus becomes a certain instrument of power and splen- 
dor." Surely this doctrine is right ; it speaks to the heart , 


It impresses itself on the feelings of mankind, and convmces 
us that the tranquillity, happiness, and prosperity, of the 
human race, depend on inviolably preserving the faith of 

Burlamaqui, another writer of great reputation on politi- 
cal law, says "that treaties are obligatory on the subjects 
of the powers who enter into treaties ; they arc obligatory 
as conventions between the contracting powers ; but they 
have the force of law with respect to their subjects." These 
are his wry words : " lis out force de hi a Pegard des sujetSy 
considerts comme tels; and it is very manifest," continues 
he, " that two sovereigns, who enter into a treaty, impose, 
by such treaty, an obligation on their subjects to conform to 
it, and in no manner to contravene it." It is remarkable 
that the words made use of by Burlamaqui establish the doc- 
trine, recognized by the Constitution, that treaties shall be 
considered as the law of the land ; and happy will it be for 
America if they shall be always so considered : we shall then 
avoid the disputes, the tumults, the frequent wars, we must 
inevitably be engaged in, if we violate treaties. By our 
treaty with France, we declare she shall have all the privi- 
leges, in matters of commerce, with the most favored nation. 
Sup[X)se a particular state should think proper to g:rant a 
particular privilege to Holland, which she refuses to France ; 
would not this be a violation of the treaty with France ? It 
certainly would ; and we in this state would be answerable 
for the consequences attending such violation by another 
state ; for we do not enter into treaties as separate states, 
but as united states; and all the members of the Union are 
answerable for the breach of a treaty by any one of them. 
South Carolina, therefore, considering its situation, and the 
valuable produce it has to export, is particularly interested in 
maintaining the sacredness of treaties, and the good faith with 
which they should be observed by every member of the 
Union. But the honorable gentleman complains that the 
power of making treaties is vested in the President and 
.Senate, and thinks it is not placed so safely with them as 
with the Congress under the old Confederation. Let us 
examine this objection. By the old Confederation, each 
state had an equal vote in Congress, and no treaty could be 
made without the assent of the delegates from nine states. 
By the present Constitution, each state sends two member? 


to u\e Senate, who vote per capita ; and the President has 
power, with advice and consent of the Senate, to make 
treaties, provided two thirds of the Senate present concur. 
This inconvenience attended the old method : it was fre- 
quently difficult to obtain a representation from nine states ; 
and if only nine states were present, they must all concur 
in making a treaty. A single member would frequently pre- 
vent the business from being concluded ; and if he absented 
himself, Congress had no power to compel his attendance. 
This actually happened when a treaty of importance was 
about to be concluded w^ith the Indians ; and several states, 
being satisfied, at particular junctures, that the nine states 
present would not concur in sentiments on the subject of a 
treaty, were indifferent whether their members attended or 
not. But now that the senators vote individually, and not 
by states, each state will be anxious to keep a full represen- 
tation in the Senate ; and the Senate has now power to com- 
pel the attendance of its own members. We shall thus 
have no delay, and business will be conducted in a fuller 
representation of the states than it hitherto has been. All 
ihe members of the Convention, who had served in Con- 
gress, were so sensible of the advantage attending this mode 
of voting, that the measure was adopted unanimously. For 
my own part, I think it infinitely preferable to the old method. 
So much for the manner of voting. 

Now let us consider whether the power of making treaties 
is not as securely placed as it was before. It was formerly 
vested in Congress, who were a body constituted by the 
legislatures of the different states in equal proportions. At 
present, it is vested in a President, who is chosen by the 
people of America, and in a Senate, whose members are 
chosen by the state legislatures, each legislature choosing two 
members. Surely there is greater security in vesting this 
power as the present Constitution has vested it, than in any 
other l)ody. Would the gentleman vest it in the President 
alone ? If he would, his assertion that the power we have 
granted was as dangerous as the power vested by Parliament 
in the proclamations of Henry VIII., might have been, per- 
haps, warranted. Would he vest it in the House of Repre- 
sentatives ? Can secrecy be expected in sixty-five members ? 
The idea is absurd. Besides, their sessions will probablv 
last only two or three months in the year ; therefore, on thai 


account, they would be a very unfit body for negotiation 
whereas the Senate, from the smallness of its numbers, from 
the equality of power which each state has in it, from the 
length of time for which its membt)rs are elected, from the 
long sessions they may have without any great inconveniency 
to themselves or constituents, joined with the president, who 
is the federal head of the United States, form together a 
body in whom can be best and most safely vested the diplo- 
matic power of the Union. 

General Pinckney then observed, that the honorable 
gentleman had not conducted his arguments with his usual 
candor. He had made use of many which were not well 
founded, and were only thrown out ad captandum. Why 
say, upon this occasion, that every thing would, in future, be 
managed by great men, and that great men could do no 
wrong ? Under the new Constitution, the abuse of power 
was more effectually checked than under the old one. A 
proper body, immediately taken from the people, and return- 
able to the people every second year, are to impeach those 
who behave amiss, or betray their public trust ; another body, 
taken from the state legislatures, are to try them. No man, 
however great, is exempt from impeachment and trial. If 
the representatives of the people think he ought to be im- 
[)eache^ and tried, the President carniot pardon him ; and 
ihis great man himself, whom the honorable g:entleman pre- 
tends to he so much afraid of, as well as the Vice-President, 
and all civil officers of the United States, are to be removed 
from office on impeachment and conviction of treason, bri- 
bery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Then why 
make use of arguments to occasion improper jealousies and 
ill-founded fears ? Why is the invidious distinction of " great 
men " to be reiterated in the ears of the members ? Is there 
any thing in the Constitution which prevents the President 
and senators from being taken from the poor as well as the 
rich ? Is there any pecuniary qualification necessary to the 
holding of any office under the new Constitution ? There 
is not. Merit and virtue, and federal principles, are the 
qualifications which will prefer a poor man to office, before 
a rich man who is destitute of them. The gentleman has 
made a warm panegyric on the old Confederation. Can he 
possibly be serious, and does he really think it can secure us 
tranquillity at home, or respect abroad ? Ask the citizcn» 

VOL. IV. 3fi 


ol Massachusetts if the Confederation protected them dur- 
ing the insurrection of Shays. Ask the crews of our vessels 
captured by the Algerines if respect for our government hath 
softened the rigors of their captivity. Inquire of our dele 
gates to Congress if all the despatches from your public 
ministers are not filled with lamentations of the imbecility 
of Congress ; and whether foreign nations do not declare 
they can have no confidence in our government, because it 
has not power to enforce obedience to treaties. Go through 
each state in the Union, and be convinced that a disregard 
for law hath taken the place of order, and that Congress is 
so slighted by all of them that not one hath complied with 
her requisitions. Every state in the Union, except Rhode 
Island, was so thoroughly convinced that our government 
was inadequate to our situation, that all, except her, sent 
members to the Convention at Philadelphia. General 
Pinckney said, it had been alleged that, when there, they 
exceeded their powers. He thought not. They had a 
right, he apprehended, to propose any thing which they 
imagined would strengthen the Unign, and be for the ad- 
vantage of our country ; but they did not pretend to a right 
to determine finally upon any thing. The present Constitu- 
tion is but a proposition which the people may reject ; but 
he conjured them to reflect seriously before they did reject 
it, as he did not think our state would obtain better terms 
by another convention, and the anarchy which would, in all 
probability, be the consequence of rejecting this Constitu- 
tion, would encourage some daring des|x>t to seize upon the 
government, and etTectually deprive us of our liberties. 

Every member who attended the Convention was, from 
the beginning, sensible of the necessity of giving greater 
powers to the federal government. This was the very pur- 
pose for which they were convened. The delegations of 
Jersey and Delaware were, at first, averse to this organiza- 
tion ; but they afterwards acquiesced in it ; and the con- 
duct of their delegates has been so \ovy agreeable to the 
people of these states, that their respective conventions have 
unanimously adopted the Constitution. As we have found 
It necessary lu give very extensive powers to the federal 
government both over the persons and estates of the citi- 
zens, we thought it right to draw one branch of the legisla- 
ture immediately from the people, and that both wealth anil 


numbers should be considered in the representation. vVe 
were at a loss, for some time, for a rule to ascertain the 
proportionate wealth of the states. At last we thought that 
the productive labor of the inhabitants was the best rule for 
ascertaining their wealth. In conformity to this rule, joined 
to a spirit of concession, we determined that representatives 
should be apportioned among the several states, by adding 
to the whole number of free persons three fifths of the slaves. 
We thus obtained a representation for our property ; and I 
confess I did not expect that we had conceded too much to 
the Eastern States, when they allowed us a representation 
^or a species of property which they have not among them. 
The numbers in the different states, according to the 
most accurate accounts we could obtain, were — 

In New Hampshire 102,000 

Massachusetts, 360,000 

Rhode Island, 58,000 

Connecticut 202,000 

New York 23:3,000 

New Jersey, 138,000 

Pennsylvania, 360,000 

Delaware, 37,000 

Maryland, (including three fifths of 80,000 negroes,) . . 218,000 

Virginia, (including three fifths of 280,000 negroes,) . . 420,000 

N. Carolina, (including three fifths of 60,000 negroes,) . . 200,000 

S. Carolina, (including three fifths of 80,000 negroes,) . . 150,000 

Georgia, (including three fifths of 20,000 negroes,) . . . 90,000 

The first House of Representatives will consist of sixty- 
five members. South Carolina will send five of them. Each 
state has the same representation in the Senate that she has 
at present; so that South Carolina will have, under the new 
Constitution, a thirteenth share in the government, which is 
the proportion she has under the old Confederation : and 
when it is considered that the Eastern States are full of 
men, and that we must necessarily increase rapidly to the 
southward and south-westward, he did not think that the 
Southern States will have an inadequate share in the repre- 
sentation. The honorable gentleman alleges that the 
Southern States are weak. I sincerely agree with him. 
VVe are so weak that by ourselves we could not form a union 
strong enough for the purpose of effectually protecting each 
other. Without union with the other states, South Carolina 
must soon fall. Is there any one among us so much a 


Quixote as to suppose that this state could long maintain her 
independence if she stood alone, or was only connected with 
the Southern States ? I scarcely' believe there is. Let an 
invading power send a naval force into the Chesapeake to 
keep Virginia in alarm, and attack South Carolina with such 
a naval and military force as Sir Henry Clinton brought hefe 
in 1780; and though they might not soon conquer us, they 
would certainly do us an infinite deal of mischief; and if 
they considerably increased their numbers, we should proba- 
bly fall. As, from the nature of our climate and the fewness 
of our inhabitants, we are undoubtedly weak, should we not 
endeavor to form a close union with the Eastern States, who 
are strong ? And ought we not to endeavor to increase that 
species of strength which will render them of most service to 
us both in peace and war ? — I mean their navy. We cer- 
tainly ought ; and by doing this we render it their particular 
interest to afford us every assistance in their power, as every 
wound that we receive will eventually affect them. Reflect, 
for a moment, on the situation of the Eastern States ; their 
country full of inhabitants, and so impracticable to an invad- 
ing enemy by their numberless stone walls, and a variety of 
other circumstances, that they can be under no apprehension 
of danger from an attack. They can enjoy their independ- 
ence without our assistance. If our government is to be 
founded on equal compact, what inducement can they possi- 
bly have to be united with us, if we do not grant them some 
privileges with regard to their shipping? Or, supposing 
they were to unite with us without having these privileges, 
can we flatter ourselves that such union would be lasting, or 
that they would afford us effectual assistance when invaded ? 
Interest and policy both concurred in prevailing upon us to 
submit the regulation of commerce to the general govern- 
ment. But I will also add, justice and humanity require it 
likewise. For who have been the greatest sufferers in the 
Union, by our obtaining our independence? I answer, the 
Eastern States. They have lost every thing but their coun- 
try and their freedom. It is notorious that some ports to the 
eastward, which used to fit out one hundred and fifty sail of 
vessels, do not now fit out thirty ; that their trade of ship- 
building, which used to be very considerable, is now annihi- 
lated ; that their fisheries are trifling, and their mariners in 
want of bread. Surely we are called upon by every tie o 


justice, friendship, and humanity, to relieve their distresses ; 
and as, by their exertions, they have assisted us in establish- 
ing our freedom, we should let them, in some measure, 
partake of our prosperity. The general then said he would 
make a few observations on the objections which the gentle- 
man had thrown out on the restrictions that might be laid 
on the African trade after the year 1808. On this point 
your delegates had to contend with the religious and political 
prejudices of the Eastern and Middle States, and with the 
interested and inconsistent opinion of Virginia, who was 
warmly opposed to our importing more slaves. I am of the 
same opinion now as 1 was two years ago, when I used the 
expressions the gentleman has quoted — that, while there re- 
mained one acre of swamp-land uncleared of South Carolina, 
I would raise my voice against restricting the importation of 
negroes. I am as thoroughly convinced as that gentleman 
is, that the nature of our climate, and the flat, swampy situa- 
tion of our country, obliges us to cultivate our lands with ne- 
groes, and that without them South Carolina would soon bo 
a desert waste. 

You have so frequently heard my sentiments on this sub- 
ject, that I need not now repeat them. It was alleged, by 
some of the members who opposed an unlimited importation, 
that slaves increased the weakness of any«tate who admitted 
them ; that they were a dangerous species of property, which 
an invading enemy could easily turn agciinst ourselves and 
the neighboring states ; and that, as we were allowed a rep- 
resentation for them in the House of Representatives, our 
influence in government would be increased in proportion as 
we were less able to defend ourselves. " Show some 
period," said ihe members from the Eastern States, " when 
it may be in our power to put a stop, if we please, to the im 
portation of this Weakness, and we will endeavor, for y.oui 
convenience, to restrain, the religious and political prejudices 
of our people on this subject." The Middle States and Vir- 
ginia made us no such proposition ; they were for an im- 
mediate and total prohibition. We endeavored to obviate 
the objections that were made in the best manner we could, 
.ind assigned reasons for our Insisting on the importation, 
which there is no occasion to repeat, as they must occur to 
every gentleman in the house : a committee of the states 
WHS appointed in order to accommodate this matter, and 


after a great deal of difficulty, it was settled on the footing 
recited in the Constitution. 

By this settlement we have secured an unlimited importa- 
tion of negroes for twenty years. Nor is it declared that the 
importation shall be then stopped ; it may be continued. 
We have a security that the general government can never 
emancipate them, for no such authority is granted ; and it is 
admitted, on all hands, that the general government has no 
powers but what are expressly granted by the Constitution, 
and that all rights not expressed were reserved by the several 
states. We have obtained a right to recover our slaves in 
whatever part of America they may take refuge, which is a 
right we had not before. In short, considering all circum- 
stances, we have made the best terms for the security of this 
species of property it was in our power to make. We would 
have made better if we could ; but, on the whole, I do not 
think thehi bad. 

Dr. DAVID RAMSAY thought our delegates had made 
a most excellent bargain for us, by transferring an immense 
sum of Continental debt, which we were pledged to pay, 
upon the Eastern States, some of whom (Connecticut, for 
instance) could not expect to receive any material advantage 
from us. He considered the old Confederation as dissolved. 

Hon. JACOB READ looked on the boasted efficiency of 
Congress to be farcical, and instanced two cases in proof of 
his opinion. One was, that, when the treaty should have 
been ratified, a sufficient number of members could not be 
collected in Congress for that purpose ; so that it was neces- 
sary to despatch a frigate, at the expense of four thousand 
dollars, with particular directions for Mr, Adams to use his 
endeavors to gain time. His application proved successful ; 
oth«»rwise, very disagreeable consequences must have ensued. 
The other case was, a party of Indians came to Princeton 
for the purpose of entering into an amicable treaty with Con- 
gress ; before it could be concluded, a member went to 
Philadelphia to be married, and his secession had nearly 
involved the western country in all the miseries of war. Mr. 
Read urged a concurrence with those states that were in 
favor of the new Constitution. 

Hon. CHARLES PINCKNEY observed, that the honor- 
able gentleman was singular in his op|X)sition to the new 
Constitution, and equally singular in his profuse praise of the 


old one. He described, with much good sense, the imprac- 
ticability of annexing responsibility to the office of President 
in a republican form of government ; the only remedy against 
despotism being to form a party against those who were 
obnoxious, and turn them out. He observed that the Presi- 
dent's |X)wers did not permit him to declare war. 

Hon. RAWLINS LOWNDES declared himself almost 
willing to give up his post, finding he was opposed by such 
a phalanx of able antagonists, any one of them possessing 
sufficient abilities to contend with him ; but as a number of 
respectable members, men of good sense, though not in the 
habit of speaking in public, had requested that he would state 
his sentiments, for the purpose of gaining information on 
such points as seemed to require it, — rather in compliance, 
therefore, with their wishes, than any inclination on his part, 
he should make a few further observations on the subject. 
Much had been said, from different p irts of the house, against 
the old Confederation — that it was such a futile, inefficient, 
impolitic government as to render us the objects of ridicule 
and contempt in the eyes of other nations. He could not 
agree to this, because there did not appear any evidence of 
the fact, and because the names of those gentlernen who had 
signed the old Confederation were eminent for patriotism, 
virtue, and wisdom, — as much so as any set of men that 
could be found in America, — and their prudence and wisdom 
particularly appeared in the care which they had taken 
sicredly to guaranty the sovereignty of each state. The 
treaty of peace expressly agreed to acknowledge us as free, 
sovereign, and independent states, which privileges we lived 
at present in the exercise of. But this new Constitution at 
once swept those privileges away, being sovereign over all ; 
so that this state would dwindle into a mere skeleton of what 
it was ; its legislative powers would be pared down to little 
more than those now vested in the corporation ; and he 
should value the honor of a sent in the legislature in no 
higher estimation than a seat in the city council. Adverting 
to the powers given to the President, he considerul them as 
enormous, particularly in being allowed to interfere in the 
election of members in the House of Representatives ; aston- 
ishing that we had not this reserved to us, when the senators 
were to \ye chosen from that body : — thinks it might be so 
managed that the different legislatures should be limited to 
the passing a few laws for regulating ferries and roads. 

288 DEBATES. [LowNDu 

The honorable gentleman went into an investigation of 
the weight of our representation in the proposed government, 
which he thought would be merely virtual, similar to what 
we were allowed in England, whilst under the British govern- 
ment. We were then told that we were represented in 
Parliament; and this would, in the event, prove just such 
another. The mode of choosing senators was exceedingly 
exceptionable. It had been the practice formerly to choose 
the Senate or council for this state from that house, which 
practice proved so inconvenient and oppressive, that, when 
we framed our present Constitution, great care was taken to 
vest the [X)wer of electing the Senate originally with the 
people, as the best plan for securing their rights and privi- 
leges. He wished to know in what manner it was proposed 
to elect the five representatives. Was it to be done in this 
city? or would some districts return one member, and others 
none at all ? 

Still greater difficulties would be found in the choice of a 
President, because he must have a majority of ninety-one 
votes in his favor. For the first President there was one 
man to whom all America looked up, (General Washington,) 
and for whom he most heartily would vote ; but after that 
gentleman's administration ceased, where could they point 
out another so highly respected as to concentre a majority 
of ninety-one persons in his favor ? and if no gentleman 
should be fully returned, then the government must stand 
still. He went over much of the groimd which he had trod 
the preceding day, relative to the Eastern States having l)een 
so guarded in what they had conceded to gain the regulation 
of our commerce, which threw into their hands the carryin^: 
trade, and put it in their power to lay us under payment of 
whatever freightag;e they thought proper to impose. It was 
their interest to do so, and no person could doubt but they 
would promote it hy every means in their power. He 
wished our delegates had sufficiently attended to this point 
in the Convention — had been more attentive to this object, 
and taken care to have it expressed, in this Constitution, 
that all our ports were open to all nations ; instead of put- 
ting us in the power of a set of men who may fritter away 
the value of our produce to a little or nothing, by compelling 
payment of exorbitant freightage. Neither did he believe 
it was in the power of the Eastern States to furnish a suf- 


ficient number of ships to carry our produce. It was, in- 
deed, a general way of talking, that the Eistern States had 
a great number of seamen, a vast number of ships ; but 
where were they? Why did they not come here now, 
when ships are greatly wanted ? He should always wish to 
give them a preference, and so, no doubt, would many other 

fentlemen ; and yet very few ships come here from the 
lastern States. Another exceptionable point was, that we 
were to give up the power of taxing ourselves. During our 
connection with Great Britain, she left us the power of rais- 
ing money in any way most convenient : a certain sum was 
only required to defra}; the public wants, but no mode of 
collecting it ever prescribed. In this new Constitution, 
every thing is transferred, not so much power being left 
us as Lord North offered to guaranty to us in his concili- 
atory plan. Look at the articles of union ratified between 
England and Scotland. How cautiously had the latter ta- 
ken care of her interest in reserving all the forms of law 

— her representation in Parliament — the right of taxation 

— the management of her revenue — and all her local and 
municipal interests! Why take from us the right of paying 
our delegates, and pay them from the federal treasury ? He 
remembered formerly what a flame was raised in Massachu- 
setts, on account of Great Britain assuming the payment of 
salaries to judges and other state officers ; and that this con- 
duct was considered as originating in a design to destroy 
the independence of their government. Our local expenses 
had been nearly defrayed by our impost duty ; but now 
that this was given away, and thrown into a general fund, 
for the use of all the states indiscriminately, we should be 
obliged to augment our taxes to carry on our local govern- 
ment, notwithstanding we were to pay a poll tax for our ne- 
groes. Paper money, too, was another article of restraint, 
and a popular point with many ; but what evils had we ever 
experienced by issuing a little paper money to relieve our- 
selves from any exigency that pressed us ? We had now a 
circulating: medium which every body took. We used for- 
merly to issue paper bills every year, and recall them every 
five, with great convenience and advantage. Had not pa 
per money carried us triumphantly through the war, extri- 
cated us from difficulties generally supjx)sed to be insur- 
ounm table, and fully established us in our independence i^ 

VOL. IV. 37 25 


and now every thing is so changed that an entire stop must 
be put to any tnore paper emissions, however great our dis- 
tress may be. It was true, no article of die Constitution 
declared there should not be jury trials in civil cases; yet 
this must be implied, because it stated that all crimes, ex- 
cept in cases of impeachment, shall be tried by a jury. JJut 
even if trials by jury were allowed, could any person rest 
satisfied with a mode of trial which prevents the parlies from 
being obliged to bring a cause for discussion before a jury 
of men chosen from the vicinage, in a manner conformable 
to the present administration of justice, which had stood the 
test of time and experience, and evQjr been highly approved 
of? Mr. Lowndes expatiated some time on the nature of 
compacts, the sacred light in which they were held by all 
nations, and solemnly called on the house to consider wheth- 
er it would not be better to add strength to the old Confed- 
eration, instead of hastily adopting another ; asking whether 
a man could be looked on as wise, who, possessing a mag- 
nificent building, upon discovering a flaw, instead of re- 
^ pairing the injury, should pull it down, and build another, 
indeed, he could not understand with what propriety the 
Convention proceeded to change the Confederation ; for 
every person with whom he had conversed on this subject 
concurred in opinion that the sole object of appointing a 
convention was to inquire what alterations were necessary 
in the Confederation, in order that it might answer those 
salutary purposes for which it was originally intended. 

He recommended that another convention should be called ; 
and as the general sense of America appeared now to be 
known, every objection could be met on fair grounds, and 
adequate remedies applied where necessary. This mode of 
proceeding would conciliate all parties, because it was 
candid, and had a more obvious tendency to do away all 
inconveniences than the adoption of a government which 
perhaps might require the liayonet to enforce it ; for it 
could not he, expected that the people, who had disregarded 
the requisitions of Congress, though expressed in language 
the most elegant and forcible that he ever rememl)ered to 
have read, would be more obedient to the government 
until an irresistible force compelled th<»m to be so. Mr, 
Lowndes concluded a lonjr speech with a glowing eulogy on 
the old Confederation, and challenged his opponents, whilst 

Barmwell,) south CAROLINA. 29l 

one state objected, to get over that section which said, " The 
Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed 
in every state, and the Union shall be per[)etual; nor shall 
any alteration at any time hereafter be made in them, unless 
such alteration be agreed to m a Congress of the United 
States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislature of 
every state." 

Hon. ROBERT BARNWELL said, although he had been 
opposed to the investigation of the Federal Constitution at 
that period, and in that house, and foretold the unneces- 
sary expenditure of lK)th time and treasure that would be 
occasioned by it, yet he acknowledged that, if individual 
information upon its principles could by any means be a 
compensation for these wastes, he should be extremely 
indebted to the honorable gentleman for the opposition 
which he had given. Mr. Barnwell was most decidedly in 
favor of the Constitution as recommended by the Convention, 
and viewed with pleasure the small sacrifices of interest, 
which, in his opinion, have been made to effect it. The 
arguments which had been adduced by the honorable gen- 
tleman in opposition had riveted his affections still more 
firmly to it, and had established in his mind, as conviction, 
what was only approbation before. If he did not view 
some part of the Constitution through a medium different 
from any of the gentlemen who had spoken before him, he 
should not have troubled this house. VVith this idea he rose, 
and left it to the house to determine whether he had done 
his duty as a meml)er, or whether he had unnecessarily 
contributed to the interruption of the business before them. 
When he foifnd that a gentleman of such acknowledged 
abilities, and of so great experience, was opposed to the 
Constitution, he expected a train of reasoning, and a power 
of argument, that would have m ide the federal fabric totter 
to its foundation. But to him they rather appeared like 
those storms which shake the edifice to fix it more strongly 
on its basis. To give his reasons for this opinion, he hegged 
the indulgence of the house while he made the following 
ol)servatioii8 upon the principles of the gentleman's opposi- 
tion. In the first instance, it appeared to him that the gen- 
tleman had established, as the basis of his ohj(»ctions, thai 
the Eastern States entertained the greatest aversion to those 
which lay to the south, and would endeavor in every 

292 DEBATES. Barnwelu 

mstani e to oppress them. This idea he considered as found- 
ed in prejudice, and unsupported by facts. To prove 
this assertion, Mr. B. requested gentlemen for a moment to 
turn their attention to the transactions which the late war 
has engraved upon the memory of every man. When the 
arm of oppression lay heavy on us, were they not the first to 
arouse themselves ? When the sword of civil discord was 
drawn, were they not the first in the field ? When war del- 
uged their plains with blood, what was their language ? 
Did they demand the southern troops to the defence of the 
north ? No ! Or, when war floated to the south, did they 
withhold their assistance ? The answer was the same. 
When we stood with the spirit, but weakness, of youth, 
they supported us with the vigor and prudence of age 
When our country was subdued, when our citizens submit 
ted to superior power, it was then these states evinced their 
attachment. He saw not a man who did not know that the 
shackles of the south were broken asunder by the arms of 
the north. With the above-mentioned supposition of op- 
pression, the gentleman had objected to the formation of the 
Senate ; that the Confederation required nine states to 
ratify matters of importance, but by the Constitution a 
majority of fourteen can do almost any thing. That this 
was the case he did not deny ; but the conclusions that he 
had drawn were by no means consequential. The seven 
Eastern States, the gentleman had said, whose interests 
were similar, will unite together, and, by having a majority 
in the Senate, will do what they please. If this was the 
case, it went against uniting at all ; for, if he was not mis- 
taken, the interests of nine of the United States are almost 
the same. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, 
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and 
Delaware, are very similar in their interests. They are 
most of them entirely carriers for others ; and those states 
which are exporting ones are very nearly equal to the 
carrying of their products themselves. Supposing, then, the 
desire of oppression to exist, he asked if they could not do 
it equally as well under the Confederation as the Constitu- 
tion. He thought so ; and, as the gentleman's arguments 
equally lay against every kind of coercive government, he 
was of opinion that the Senate, as established by this 
Constitution, was the most proper. Upon this head he 

Barmwrll.) south CAROLINA. 293 

begged permission to ask these questions : If the oiajority 
was in the Southern States, (which, as ten is a majority, 
might be the case,) would not objections, equally forcible as 
the gentleman's, lie on the side of the Eastern States? and 
yet that, in all governments, a majority must be somewhere, 
is most evident : nothing would be more completely farcical 
than a government completely checked. Having commented 
thus far on the gentleman's opposition to the Federal Consti- 
tution, he proceeded, according to the order of his objections, 
to consider the presiding. power. On this he would be ex- 
tremely concise ; for, as the only objection which had fallen 
upon this head from the honorable gentleman was, that we 
had only a thirteenth part of him ; and as this might equally, 
and, in his opinion, with more justice, be the objection of 
many and almost every state, he considered it only as a 
weight thrown into the scale of other objections, and not a 
subject for discussion. 

With respect to the President's responsibility, it could not 
be established more firmly than it is by the Constitution. 
When treaties are made, if in the time of prosperity, men 
seldom think they gain enough ; if in the day of adversity, 
they would be apt to make the President the pillow upon 
whom they would rest all their resentment. The Constitu- 
tion had then wisely made him, as a man, responsible by the 
iofluence of fame, his character, and his feelings ; as a citi- 
zen, they have postponed the period at which he could be 
tried with propriety until the fervor of party and cool reflec- 
tion can determine his fate. The gentleman had also ob- 
jected to the power given to those two branches of making 
treaties, and that these treaties should become the law of the 
land. A number of gentlemen have proved this power to l>e 
in the possession of the head of every free nation, and that it 
is within the power of the present Congress. He should 
only, therefore, observe, that the most free and enlightened 
nations of the world had a federal head, in which this power 
was established — he meant the Amphictyonic council of the 
Greeks, which was the palladium of their united liberties, 
and, until destroyed by the ambition of a few of the states 
of Greece, was revered by that jealous people as the corner- 
stone of their federal union. Against the representation he 
generally objects, that they are too few, and not elected im- 
mediately by the people. The whole body consists of sixtv 

294 DEBATES. [Babnwbll 

five persons, in vhe proportion of one to thirty thousand. 
The British Parliament have one to fifteen thousand in the 
island of Great Britain, without considering her possessions 
elsewhere. The numbers of her Parliament are fixed ; our 
congressional powers may be increased almost ad infinitum. 
Supposing, then, that a smaller apportionment had been 
made, in time we should have been oppressed with the 
number of legislators, and our government would be as lan- 
guid and inoperative as it is at prese nt ; and he differed so 
much from the honorable gentleman, that he was apprehen- 
sive lest he should find that, by the Constitution, their num 
bers will be too great. As for their not being immediately 
elected by the people at large, the gentleman would please 
to observe, that, contradictory to their present method of 
electing delegates to Congress, — a method laid down by 
that Confederation which he admires, — all the representa- 
tives are elected by the people ; so that, in this instance, the 
gentleman was very unfortunate in his objection. The gen- 
tleman also asked why we were deprived of the liberty of 
paying our own delegates ? This is another of the gentle- 
man's unfounded suspicions; for the reason is so evident, 
and the regulation so favorable, that he was astonished how 
it escaped the honorable gentleman's notice. Congress are 
to have the sole power of laying on imposts ; and therefore, 
when that fund is given up by which we were enabled to 
pay our delegates, we are also eased of the burden of doing 
it. This is so evident, that the establishment of the objec- 
tion takes not a little from the weight of the gentleman's 
other observations. Mr. Barnwell proceeded to say that the 
gentleman, upon the deprivation of the right to issue paper 
medium, has altogether made use of an argument ad homi- 
nem, calculated to seduce ; and his eulogium upon it was. in 
his opinion, misapplied. However, supposing that to be the 
clew that led us to our liberty, yet the gentleman must ac- 
knowledge it was not the state, but the Continental money, 
that brought about the favorable termination of the war. If 
to strike off a paper medium becomes necessary, Congress, 
by the Constitution, still have that right, and may exercise 
't when they think proper. 

The honorable gentleman asks why the trial by jury was 
not established in every instance. Mr. Barnwell considered 
this right of trial as the birthright of every American, and th? 

Rabnwbll.] south GAROUNA. 29h 


basis of our civil liberty; but still most certainly particulai 
circumstances may arise, which .would induce even the great- 
est advocates for this right to yield it for a time. In his 
opinion, the circumstances that would lead to this point 
were those which are specified by the Constitution. Mr 
Barnwell said, Suffer me to state a case, and let every gen- 
'tleman determine whether, in particular instances, he would 
not rather resign than retain this right of trial. A suit is 
depending between a citizen of Carolina and Georgia, and it 
becomes necessary to try it in Georgia. What is the conse- 
quonce? Why, the citizen of this state must rest his cause 
upon the jury of his opponent's vicinage, where, unknown 
and unrelated, he stands a very poor chance for justice 
against one whose neighbors, whose friends and relations, 
compose the greater part of his judges. It is in this case, 
and only in cases of a similar nature with this, that the right 
of trial by jury is not established ; and judging from myself, 
it is in this instance only that every man would wish to re- 
sign it, not to a jury with whom he is unacquainted, but to 
an impartial and responsible individual. 

Mr. Barnwell then adverted to the parts of the Constitu- 
tion which more immediately affected our state ; namely, 
the right of establishing imposts and granting preferences, 
and the clause which respects the importation of negroes. 
Upon the first he premised, that, in the compacts which 
unite men into society, it always is necessary to give up a 
part of our natural rights to secure the remainder; and that, 
iu every instance, if the latter could be maintained without 
giving up the lormer, every individual would be willing to 
keep back his share of those aggregate ties which then would 
bind the rest of the community ; each individual would wish 
to retain his right to act as he plenses, whilst all but himself 
were restricted in their conduct. Let us, then, apply this 
to the United States ; and yet the honorable gentleman sup- 
poses that South Carolina should be free herself. Surely 
this is no* just, and cannot be admissible. 

Mn C'lairman, suffer me to make this one other remark — 
that, wlvjn the distinctions occasioned by wealth take place, 
the desiie of equality and the appetite for property soon ren- 
der it necessary that the wealthy weak man should make 
greater sacrifices than the man who has nothing to lose, and 
consequently nothing to fear. This is the case wi*h us. To 

DEBATES. [Barnwell. 

secuie our wealth, and establish our security, perhaps some 
little sacrifice was necessary ; and what is this sacrifice ? 
Why, that, generally, American vessels should have a prefer- 
ence in the carrying trade. The gentleman asserts that, by- 
granting this preference, we, as a large importinjj state, will 
sufier greatly. Let us examine the truth of this position. 
By so doing, says the honorable gentleman, we shall destroy 
all competition, and the carrying states will establish what 
freight they please. I deny the declaration ; and upon this 
principle: bc^unties act as encouragements; and this prefer- 
ence may, in a trifling degree, injure us for one or two years, 
but will throw so many capitals into this trade, that, even if 
the Eastern States should desire to oppress us, this would 
prevent them ; for when this bounty takes place, our harbors 
will most indisputably reduce the freight. The gentleman 
will perhaps say that this is conjectural only. 1 appeal to 
every author, who has written upon the subject, for the cer- 
tainty of this commercial maxim, and will ask the gentleman 
himself, whether an overstock of the market, in every in- 
stance, docs not reduce the price of the commodity. Thus 
he had proved, he thought, that, should the Eastern States 
be desirous to take unfriendly advantages, their own interest 
would defeat their intention. 

Mr. Barnwell continued to say, I now come to the last 
point for consideration, — 1 mean the clause relative to the 
negroes ; and here I am particularly pleased with the Con- 
stitution. It has not left this matter, of so much importance 
to us, open to immediate investigation. No ; it has declared 
that the United States shall not, at any rate, consider this 
matter for twenty-one years ; and yet gentlemen are dis- 
pleased with it. Congress has guarantied this right for that 
space of time, and at its expiration may continue it as long 
as they please. This question then arises — What will their 
inlerest lead them to do ? The Eastern States, as the hon- 
orable gentleman says, will become the carriers of America. 
It will, therefore, certainly be their interest to encourage 
exportation to as great an extent as possible ; and if the 
quantum of our products will be diminished by the prohibi- 
tion of negroes, I appeal to the belief of every man, 
whether he thinks those very carriers will themselves dam 
up the sources from whence their profit is derived. To think 
so IS so contradictory to the general conduct of maiikind, 

LowwoEs.] SOUTH CAROLINA. 297 

that I am of opinion, that, without we ourselves put a stop 
to them, the traffic for negroes will continue forever. 

Mr. Barnwell concluded hy declaring that this Constitu- 
tion was, in his opinion, like the laws of Solon, not the best 
possible to be formed, but the best that our situation will 
admit of. He considered it as the panacea of America, 
whose healing power will pervade the continent, and sin- 
cerely believed hat its ratification is a consummation devoutly 
to be wished. 

Commodore GILLON wished to know what reason the 
house had to suppose that, if another convention met, our 
interest would be better taken care of by men of equal abili- 
ties with those who went to the other; or if, when there, 
they could procure for us superior advantages to those already 
agreed on. Indeed, he could not but consider our negativ- 
ing the •proffered government as an oblique mode of reflect- 
ing on the conduct of our delegates, instead of giving them 
that praise they were so Justly entitled to. He called the 
attention of the house to the late commotions that had hap- 
pened in Holland, where one part of the citizens had called 
in the assistance of foreigners, for the sanguinary purpose of 
cutting the throats of the other. Are we more virtuous? 
If not, may it not happen that, if dissension unhappily prevail 
among us, foreign aid will be joined to those enemies already 
amongst us, and introduce the horrors of a civil war ? He 
was warmly in favor of our sister states becoming the carriers 
of America ; not that he wished to exclude our employing 
foreigners; at present two thirds of our produce was <!arried 
in American bottoms. The commodore hoped the gentle- 
man who had approved of our state Constitution of 1778, 
would be, in time, equally pleased with the Federal Consti- 
tution proposed in 1787. He had represented our present 
situation to be calm and peaceable, but it was such a calm 
as mariners often experience at sea, after a storm, when one 
ship rolls against another, and they sink. 

Hon. RAWLINS LOWNDES said, the honorable gen- 
tleman frequently thought proper to level his shot at him ; 
hut on the present occasion they were not well pointed. 
The reason why he assented unto the Constitution in 1778 
was, because it had been approved of by the people. There 
had been something said about a ship: the Confederation 
was our old ship ; it had cost us a great deal of money ; and 
VOL. IV. 38 


he hoped we should keep her at sea without having any new 

Hon. JOHN MATHEWS, chancellor, confessed himself 
astonished at hearing such encomiums on the Articles of 
Confederation, as if they had carried us victoriously through 
the war, when, in fact, they were not ratified until the year 
1781 ; and if the Confederation had been in force in 1776, 
this country would have inevitably been lost, because, under 
it, Congress had not authority to give General Washington 
the powers of a dictator at Valley Forge. Surely the honor- 
able gentleman must be sensible that the success of Congress 
depended on the explicit confidence of the people ; the voice 
of Congress had the force of law, and was cheerfully and 
readily obeyed. With regard to the carrying trade, when 
the Convention was first ap[)ointed, he was afraid that, if a 
navigation act passed, the Northern States could not for some 
time furnish shipping sufficient for carrying the produce of 
America ; but on going, last year, to the northward, he was 
fully convinced to the contrary. At Rhode Island, he 
received information that they could immediately furnish 
50,000 tons of shipping, and that in 1787 Massachusetts 
could furnish 150,000 tons. He then went into a calculation 
of the produce of the Southern States. Virginia raised 
between 60,000 and 70,000 hogsheads annually; South 
Carolina, he sup|X)sed, would raise nearly 150,000 barrels of 
rice ; Georgia about 40,000 ; which, making large allow- 
ances for other kind of produce, still left an excess of ship- 
ping. As to any fears that the Northern States would so 
far engross the navio:ation of America as to lav the Southern 
States under a kind of contribution, by charging excessive 
freightage, we must sup|)ose that they and the Middle States 
would confederate for this piir|)ose ; for, if they did not, a 
competition would naturiilly arise between them, and also 
between America and the European nations, which would 
always secure us against the payment of great and exorbitant 
freights. As to the idea that a Senate could overturn our 
liberties and establish tyranny, this evil never could take 
place whilst the President was an honest man, because he 
|X)ssessed the power of negativing any improper proceedings 
of the two other branches of government. 

Hon. EDWARD RUTLEDGE proved, from the act 
passed last session, appointing delegates from the state t( 


meet those from other states, in Convention at Philadelphia, 
that they had not exceeded their powers. H^ then com- 
pared the powers given under the old and new constitutions, 
and proved that they differed very little, except in thai 
essential point which gave the power to government of en- 
forcing its engagements ; and surely no person could object 
to this. Mr. Rutledge thought very lightly of those fears 
entertained about bayonets being necessary to enforce an 
obedience in the people to the laws, when it became certain 
that they could not be broken with impunity ; but if a spirit 
of resistance should appear, surely it ought to be in the power 
of government to compel a coercion in the people. He then 
took some notice of the union between Great Britain and 
Scotland, showed the difference between the articles of 
union and our Federal Constitution. Great Britain reserved 
to herself the power of passing navigation laws, regulating 
the excise; the rate of taxation was also proportionate; for 
every two millions of money raised in England, Scotland 
engaged to raise £45,000 ; but in this country, we were to 
be equally taxed ; no distinction had been made, and we * 
went on all-fours. So far from not preferring Northern 
States by a navigation act, it would be politic to increase 
their strength by every means in our power ; for we had no 
other resource, in the day of danger, than in the naval force 
of our northern friends ; nor could we ever expect to become 
a great nation until we were powerful on the waters. Look 
only at the partiality of an act passed in England last year, 
in which we were excluded from trading in some parts of 
the West Indies, whilst liberty was given to all European 
powers. In fact, we must hold our country by courtesy, 
unless we have a navy ; for, if we are invaded, supposing in the 
month of July, Congress could not send troops nine hundred 
miles, in time to rescue us from danger, were we to run such 
risk, l)ecause it was possible we should be charged a little 
more freightage for our produce. But if we are a great 
maritime people, what have we to fear ? Nothing ; because 
European powers were so far removed from us that it would 
be very dangerous to send a considerable force against us ; 
l)esides, as the West India trade must pass near our coast, it 
naturally lay at our mercy. The honorable gentleman had 
jaid a great deal about establishing an aristocracy, and yet 
he wanted more power to the old constitution : now, did not 


ills own proposition, which tended to establish a precedent 
for .slipping in, by degrees, additional power, appear as likely 
to promote what he dreaded, as to agree with a constitution 
that came sanctioned by the voice of the people ? 

Hon. ARTHUR SIMKINS, of Ninety-six, asked, for 
information, whether Congress had a right to interfere in 

swered, they had no power at all, and explained this point to 
Mr. Simkins's satisfaction. 

Hon. RAWLINS LOWNDES saying that he was much 
in arrear, the committee rose, reported some progress, and 
asked leave to sit again. Leave was given. 

Friday, January 18, 178W. 

Maj. PIERCE BUTLER opened the debate (as we un- 
derstand ; the reporter of those debates unfortunately not 
being in the housej with several satisfactory answers to some 
points of objection the preceding day. 

answer to Mr. Lowndes, observed, that, though ready to pay 
every tribute of applause to the great characters whose 
names were subscril)ed to the old Confederation, yet his 
respect for them could not prevent him from being thoroughly 
sensible of the defects of the system they had established ; 
sad experience had convinced him that it was weak, ineffi- 
cient, and inadequate to the pur}X)ses of good government ; 
and he understood that most of the framers of it were so 
thoroughly convinced of this truth, that they were eager to 
adopt the present Constitution. The friends of the new 
system do not mean to shelter it under the respectability of 
mere names ; they wish every part of it may be examined 
with critical minuteness, convinced that the more thoroughly 
it is investigated, the better it will appear. The honorable 
gentleman, in the warmth of his encomiums on the old plan, 
had said that it had carried us with success through the war. 
In this it has been shown that he is mistaken, as it -was not 
finally ratified till March, 1781, and, anterior to that latifica- 
iion. Congress never acted under it, or considered it as bind- 
ing. Our success, therefore, ought not to be imputed to tne 
old Confederation ; but to the vast abilities of a Washington, 


to the valor and enthusiasm of our people, to the cruelty of 
our enemies, and to the assistance of our friends. The gen- 
tleman had mentioned the treaty of peace in a manner as if 
our independence had been granted us by the king of Great 
Britain. But that was not the case ; we were independent 
before the treaty, which does not in fact grant, but acknowl- 
edges, our independence. We ought to date that invaluable 
blessing from a much older charter than the treaty of peace 
— from a charter which our babes should be taught to lisp 
in their cradles ; which our youth should learn as a carmen 
necessarium, or indispensable lesson ; which our young men 
should regard as their compact of freedom ; and which our old 
should repeat with ejaculations of gratitude for the bounties 
it is about to bestow on their posterity : I mean the Decla- 
ration of Independence, made in Congress the 4th of July, 
1776. This admirable manifesto, which, for importance of 
matter and elegance of composition, stands unrivalled, suffi- 
ciently confutes the honorable gentleman's doctrine of the 
individual sovereignty and independence of the several 

In that Declaration the several states are not even enu- 
merated ; but after reciting, in nervous language, and with 
convincing arguments, our right to independence, and the 
tyranny which compelled us to assert it, the declaration is 
made in the following words : " We, therefore, the represent- 
atives of the United States of America in General Congress 
assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for 
the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the 
authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly pub- 
lish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of right 
The separate independence and individual sovereignty of 
the several states were never thought of by the enlightened 
band of patriots who framed this Declaration ; ,the several 
states are not even mentioned by name in any^part of it, — 
as if it was intended to impress this maxim on America, 
that our freedom and independence arose from our union, 
and that without it we could neither be free nor independ- 
ent. Let us, then, consider all attempts to weaken this 
Union, by maintaining that each state is separately and indi- 

Tidually independent, as a species of political heresy, which 


3t/2 DEBATES. [Pincknet 

can never benefit us, but may bring on us the most serious 

The general, then, in answer to Mr. Lowndes's objections, 
thnt the powers vested in the general government were too 
extensive, enumerated all the powers granted, and remarked 
particularly on each, showing that the general good of the 
Union required that all the powers sj>ecified ought necessarily 
to be vested where the Constitution had placed them ; and 
that, as all the powers granted sprang from the people, and 
were to be exercised by persons frequently chosen, mediately 
or immediately, by the people ; and that, as we had as great 
a shcire in the government, in proportion to our importance, 
as any other state had, — the assertion that our representa- 
tion would be merely virtual, similar to what we possessed 
under the British government, was altogether unfounded ; 
that there was no danger of the powers granted being abused 
while the people remained uncorrupt ; and that corruption 
was more effectually guarded against, in the manner this 
government was constituted, than in any other that had ever 
been formed. From the number of electors who have a right 
to vote for a member of the House of Representatives, little 
danger can be apprehended of corruption or undue influence, 
ff a small district sent a member, there would be frequent 
opportunities for cabal and intrigue ; but if the sphere of 
election is enlarged, then opportunities must necessarily 
diminish. The little demagogue of a petty parish or county 
will find his importance annihilated, and his intrigues useless, 
when several counties join in an election ; he probably would 
not be known, certainly not regarded, out of his own circle ; 
while the man whose abilities and virtues had extended a 
fair reputation beyond the limits of his county, would, nine 
times out of ten, be the person who would be the choice of 
the people. 

There will be no necessity, as the honorable gentleman 
has strangely, supposed, for all the freeholders in the state to 
meet at Charleston to choose five members for the House of 
Representatives ; for the state may be divided into five elec- 
tion districts, and the freeholders in each election district 
may ciioose one representative. These freeholders need not 
all meet at the same place in the district ; they may ballot 
in their particular parishes and couiuies on the same day, 
and the ballots may be thence carried into a central part of 


the district, and opened at the same time ; and whoever shall 
appear to have a majority of the votes of the freeholders of 
the whole district will be one of the five representatives for 
this state. But if any state should attempt to fix a very in- 
convenient time for the election, and name (agreeably to the 
ideas of the honorable gentleman) only one place in the 
state, or even one place in one of the five election districts, 
for the freeholders to assemble to vote, and the people should 
dislike this arrangement, they can petition the general gov- 
ernment to redress this inconvenience, and to fix times and 
places of election of representatives in the state in a more 
convenient manner; for, as this house has a right to fix the 
times and places of election, in each parish and county, for 
the members of the House of Representatives of this state, 
so the general government has a similar right to fix the times 
aod places of election, in each state, for the members. of the 
general House of Representatives. Nor is there any real 
danger to be apprehended from the exercise of this power, as 
it cannot be supposed that any state will consent to fix the 
election at inconvenient seasons and places in any other state, 
lest she herself should hereafter experience the same incon- 
venience ; but it is absolutely necessary that Congress should 
have this superintending power, lest, by the intrigues of a 
ruling faction in a state, the members of the House of Rep- 
resentatives should not really represent the people of the state, 
and lest the same faction, tiirou^h partial state views, should 
altogether refuse to send representatives of the people to the 
general government. The general government has not the 
same authority with regard to the members of the Senate. 
It would have been improper to have intrusted them with it; 
for such a power would, in some measure, have authorized 
them to fix the times and places when and where the state 
legisl.itures should convene, and would tend to destroy that 
necessary check which the general and state governments 
will have on each other. The honorable gentleman, as if he 
was determined to object to every part of the Constitution, 
though he does not approve of electing representatives im- 
mediately by the people, or at least cannot conceive how it 
is to be effected, yet objects to the constitution of the Senate, 
IjccHUse the senators are to be elected by the state legislatures, 
and not immediately by the people. When the Constitu- 
tion says the people shall elect, the g(»ntleman cries out. " It is 

304 DEBATES. [PiNcufBr. 

chimerical ! — the election will be merely virtual." When the 
Constitution determines that the state legislatures are to elect, 
he exclaims, "The people's rights are invaded ! — the election 
should be immediately by them, and not by their representa- 
tives." How, then, can we satisfy him, as he is determined 
to censure, in this Constitution, that mode of election wh'x'h 
he so highly approves in the old Confederation ? The reason 
why our present state Constitution, mr^de in 1778, changed 
the mode of electing senators from the mode prescribed by 
our first constitution, passed in 1776, was because, by the 
first, the senators were elected by this house, and therefore, 
being their mere creatures, they could not be supposed to 
have that freedom of will as to form a proper check on its 
proceedings ; whereas, in the general Constitution, the 
House of Representatives will be elected immediately by 
the people, and represent them and their personal rights in- 
dividually ; the Senate will be elected by the state legisla- 
tures, and represent the states in their political capacity ; 
and thus each branch will form a proper and independent 
check on the other, and the legislative powers will be advan- 
tageously balanced. 

With regard to the objection that had been made to the 
mode of electing the President of the United States, General 
Pinckney asked what other mode would have been so proper. 
If he was to be elected by the House of Representatives and 
the Senate, as one of them have the power of impeaching 
and the other of trying him, he would be altogether their 
creature, and would not have independence enough to exer- 
cise with firmness the revisionary power and other authorities 
with which he is invested by the Constitution. This want 
of independence might influence his conduct, in some degree, 
if he was to be elected by one branch of the legislature 
alone ; but as he is to be elected by the people, through the 
medium of electors chosen particularly for that purpose, and 
he is in some measure to be a check on the Senate and House 
of Representatives, the election, in my opinion, could not 
have been placed so well if it had been made in any other 

In all elections of a chief magistrate, foreign influence is 
to be guarded against. Here it is very carefully so ; and it 
is almost impossible for any foreign power to influence thir- 
teen different sets of electors, distributed throughout the 


states, from New Hampshire to Georgia. By this mode, 
also, and for the same reason, the dangers of intrigue ano 
corruption are avoided, and a variety of other inconveniences, 
which must have arisen if the electors from the different 
states had been directed to assemble at one place, or if ei- 
ther branch of the legislature (in case the majority of elect- 
ors did not fix upon the same person) might have chosen a 
President who had not been previously put in nomination 
by the people. I have before spoken of the policy and jus- 
tice of vesting the majority of Congress with the power ot 
making commercial regulations, and the necessity there is, 
in all well-constituted republics, that the majority should 
control the minority ; and I should have had a very strong 
objection if it had contained the restrictive clause the hon- 
orable gentleman appears so anxious for, " that Congress 
should not have it in their power to prevent the ships o( 
any nation from entering our ports." I cannot think it 
would have been prudent or fitting to have given the ships 
of all foreign nations a constitutional right to enter our ports 
whenever they pleased, and this, too, notwithstanding we 
might be at war with them ; or they may have passed laws 
denying us the privileges they grant to all other commercial 
nations; or circumstances not now foreseen might render it 
necessary for us to prohibit them. Such a clause would 
have injured the Eastern States, would have been eventu- 
ally detrimental to ourselves, and would have in fact amount- 
ed to a declaration that we were resolved never to have a 
navy. To such a clause the general declared he never 
would hive consented, and desired the gentleman to produce 
an instance of any independent power who did not give 
exclusive advantages to their own shipping. He then took 
notice that Chancellor Matthews had fully answered what 
had been alleged concerning the exorbitant freights we 
should be obliged to pay, and had clearly shown that no 
danger was to be apprehended on that subject ; and that 
the Eastern States could soon furnish us, and all the South- 
ern States, with a sufficient number of ships to carry off 
our produce. With regard to the general government im- 
posing internal taxes upon us, he contended that it was 
absolutely necessary they should have such a power : requi- 
sitions had been in vain tried every year since the ratifica- 
tion of the old Confederation, and not a* single state had 
VOL. IV. 39 

306 DEBATES. [Pincknei 

p5iid the quota required of her. The general governmenl 
could not abuse this power, and favor one state and oppress 
another, as each slate was to be taxed only in proportion 
to its representation ;• and as to excises, when it is consid- 
ered how many more excisable articles are manufactured to 
the northward than there are to the southward, and the ease 
and convenience of raising a revenue by indirect taxation, 
and the necessity there is to obtain money for the payment 
of our debts, for our common defence, and for the general 
welfare, he thought every man would see the propriety, and 
even the necessity, of this clause. For his part, he knew 
of no sum that he would not sooner have consented to have 
paid, if he had had it, rather than have adopted Lord North's 
conciliatory plan, which seems, by the argument of the gen- 
tleman, to be in some respect preferable to the proposed 
Constitution ; but in asserting this, the gentleman cer- 
tainly cannot be serious. As to the payment of members 
of the legislature out of the federal treasury. General Pinck- 
ney contended it was rii^ht, and particiilarly beneficial to us, 
who were so distant from the seat of the federal govern- 
ment, as we at present paid our members not only while 
they were actually in Congress, but for all the time they 
were going there and returning home, which was an ex- 
pense the Middle States felt but in a slight degree ; but now 
that all the meml>ers are to be paid out of the public treasu- 
ry, our remote situation will not be particularly expensive to 
us. The case of the payment of the Massachusetts judges 
under the royal government can by no ingenuity be made 
applicable to the payment of the members of the federal 
legislature. With regard to Mr; Lowndes's question, " What 
harm had paper money done ? " General Pinckney answered, 
that he wondered that gentleman should ask such a question, 
as he had told the house that he had lost fifteen thousand 
guineas by depreciation ; but he would tell the gentleman 
what further injuries it had done — it had corrupted the 
morals of the people ; it had diverted them from the paths 
of honest industry to the ways of ruinous speculation ; it 
had destroyed both ptiblic and private credit, and had brought 
total ruin on numberless widows and orphans. 

As to the judiciary department. General Pinckney observed, 
that trial by jury was so deservedly esteemed by the people 
of America, that it is impossible for their n^presenutives to 


omit introducing it whenever it can with propriety he done. 
In appeals from courts of chancery, it surely would he im- 
proper. In a dispute between a citizen of Carolina and a 
citizen of Georgia, if a jury was to try the case, from which 
stale are they to be drawn ? If from both or either, would 
the citizens of Carolina and Georgia choose to be summoned 
to attend on juries eight hundred miles from their home^ 
and if the jury is to be drawn from the state in which Con- 
gress shall sit, would these citizens wish that a cause rel- 
ative to negro property should be tried by the Quakers of 
Pennsylvania, or by the freeholders of those states thai have 
not that species of property amongst them ? Surely not. 
Yet it is necessary, when a citizen of one state cannot 
obtain an impartial trial in another, that, for the sake of 
justice, he should have a right to appeal to the supreme ju- 
diciary of the United States to obtain redress; and as this 
right of appeal does not extend to citizens of the same state, 
(unless they claim under grants of different states,) but only 
to the causes and persons particularly mentioned in the Con- 
stitution, and Congress have power to make such regulations 
and impose such restrictions relative to appeals as they think 
proper, it can hardly be supposed that they will exercise it 
in a manner injurious to their constituents. 

Trials by jury are expressly secured in all criminal cases, 
and not excluded in any civil cases whatsoever. But expe- 
rience had demonstrated that it was impossible to adhere 
to them in all civil cases: for instance, on the first establish- 
ment of the admiralty jurisdiction, Congress pissed an ordi- 
nance requiring all causes of capture to be decided by juries: 
this was contrary to the practice of all nations, and we knew 
it ; but still an attachment to a trial by jury induced the ex- 
periment. What was the consequence ? The property of 
our friends was, at times, condemned indiscriminately with 
the property of our enemies, and the property of our citizens 
of one state by the juries of another. Some of our citizens 
have severely felt these inconveniences. Citizims of other 
states and other powers experienced similar misfortunes from 
this mode of trial. It was, therefore, by universal consent 
and approbation, laid aside in cases of capture. As the ordi- 
nance which regulated these trials was passed by Congress, 
they had the power of altering it, and they exercised that 
|iower' but had that ordinance been part of the Confede«^- 


ti6o, it could not then have been repealed in the then situa- 
cion of America ; and had a clause of a similar tendency 
been inserted in this Constitution, it could only be altered by 
a convention of the different states. This shows at once 
how improper it would have been to have descended to 
mmutiiB in this particular ; and he trusted it was unneces- 
sary, because the laws which are to regulate trials must be 
made by the representatives of the people chosen as this 
house are, and as amenable as they are for every part of 
their conduct. The honorable gentleman says, compacts 
should be binding, and that the Confederation was a com- 
pact. It was so ; but it w^as a compact that had been 
repeatedly broken by every state in the Union ; and all the 
writers on the laws of nations agree that, when the parties to a 
treaty violate it, it is no longer binding. This was the case 
with the old Confederation ; it was virtually dissolved, and it 
became necessary to form a new constitution, to render us 
secure at home, respectable abroad, and to give us that station 
among the nations of the world, to which, as free and inde- 
pendent people, we are justly entitled. 

Hon. RAWLINS LOWNDES observed, that he had 
been accused of obstinacy in standing out against such a 
formidable opposition ; but he would sincerely assure the 
house that he was as open to conviction as any gentleman 
on the floor : yet he never would allow himself to be drawn 
into the adoption of specious arguments ; for such he con- 
sidered many of those now opposed against him to be. In- 
deed, some gentlemen had departed from their usual candor 
in giving an interpretation to his arguments which they did not 
merit. In one instance, it had been stated as if he was of 
opinion that treaties had not the force of law. This was 
going too far. He did not recollect that he had asserted any 
more than that the king of Great Britain had not a legal power 
to ratify any treaty which trenched on the fundamental laws 
of the country. He supposed a case, under the dispensing 
act of William and Mary, asking, " If the king had made a 
treaty with the Roman Catholics, could that which was 
excepted by the laws ever be considered as paramount ? '^ 
The honorable gentleman again took an ample view of the 
old Confederation, on which he dwelt with fervency for some 
time, and ridiculed the depraved inconsistency of those who 
pant for the change. Great stress was laid on the admirable 


checks which guarded us, under the new Constitution, from 
the encroachments of tjranny ; but too many checks in a 
political machine must produce the same mischief as in a 
mechanical one — that of throwing all into confusion. But 
^ftupposing we considered ourselves so much aggrieved as to 
reduce us to the necessity of insisting on redress, what 
probability had we of relief? Very little indeed. In the 
Involving on misfortune, some little gleams of comfort 
resulted from a hope of being able to resort to an impartial 
tribunal for redress; but pray what reason was there for 
expectancy that, in Congress, the interest of five Southern 
States would be considered in a preferable point of view to 
the nine Eastern ones ? With respect to migration from the 
Eastern States to the Southern ones, he did not believe that 
people would ever iiock here in such considerable numbers, 
because our country had generally proved so uncomfortable, 
from the excessive heats, that our acquaintance, during the 
beats, is rather shunned than solicited. The honorable gen- 
tleman mentioned that he had sent for a person from Europe, 
who did not long survive his introduction here, falling a 
sacrifice to the baneful effects of fogs and swamps; so that, 
from our limitation of importing: negroes after the term of 
twenty years, instead of rising in representation, we should 
gradually degenerate. He treated those fears of our falling 
a prey to foreigners as one of those arguments tending to 
precipitate us into measures inimical to our natural interest; 
for was it to be supposed that the policy of France would 
ever suffer America to become an appendage of the crown 
of Great Britain; or that Great Britain, equally jealous of 
France, would permit her to reduce us to subjection ? Our 
danger of ruin should rather be apprehended from dissen- 
sions amongst ourselves — from our running into debt with- 
out any intention to pay : that was the rock on which we 
might split, rather than foreign enemies ; and, therefore, all 
ihose arguments for establishing the necessity of a navy and 
standing army were nugatory, and entitled to very little 

It was urged that, until we had a navy powerful enough 
to protect us, our liberties and property were held only on 
courtesy ; but if gentlemen adverted, where this navy, so 
necessary, was to come from, — not from the Southern States, 
but the Northern ones. — they would easily perceive to whom 

310 DEBATES. [liO\rNDB8. 

this country would belong. It was true, the old Confedera- 
tion was a mere paper defence ; but then it was a good proof 
on our behalf if we were overcome b^ unmerited wrongs. 
Some had made this a question — "Will you join, or will 
you be single ? " For his part, he did not think matters had 
rome to such a crisis ; rather let us comply with Oiir federal 
connection, which, not yet being broken, admits of being 
strengthened. A gentleman had instanced Vattel in support 
of his argument, and laid down, from that author, an ophiion 
that where parties engaged in the performance of an obliga- 
tion, should any one of them fly off from his agreement, the 
original was null and void. He had ingeniously applied this 
to our present Continental situation, and contended, as some 
of the states acted in a refractory manner towards the Con- 
tinental Union, and obstinately refused a compliance, on 
their parts, with solemn obligations, that of course the Con- 
federation was virtually dissolved. But Vaitel merely recited 
such a case as where only a part of a confederation was 
broken ; whereas ours was totally different, every state in the 
Union having been uniform in refusing a compliance with 
the requisitions of Congress. Some gentlemen had advanced 
a set of assertions to prove that the Eastern States had 
greatly suffered in the war. Pray, how had they suffered ? 
Did they not draw from the Continental treasury large sums 
of money? Was not every expense incurred by them 
defrayed out of the Continental coffers ? Another great ad- 
vantage held out was, that we should be eased, in future, from 
the obligation and difficulty of defraying the expenses of del- 
egates. Had we gained so much by this, when we had 
fpven up the very means of furnishing this sort of supply, 
formerly in our own option? As to the taxes, undoubtedly 
they must be increased under this new government. We 
paid at present two dollars per head u|X)n our negroes; but 
the expenses attending our pompous government might in- 
crease this expense into six dollars per head, and this enor- 
mous sum collected by a sort of foreign power ; for did any 
man, that knew America, suppose such tax will be easily 
paid "^ But if there was such a universal propensity to set up 
this golden image, why delay its inauguration ? Let us at 
once go plump into the adoration of it ; let us at once sur- 
render every right which we at present possess. A material 
olijection of his to the offered plan was, that the President 


would have power to«caU both houses at what time aud place 
he thought proper. Suppose a political cause for partiality, 
might he not so arrange things, as to carry a favorite point, 
by assembling the federal government, to the ruin or detri- 
ment of those states he meant to crush, and laws be enacted 
before those in extreme parts of the country knew any thing 
of their tendency ? Surely some restrictions, as to time of 
meeting, should have been specified. The President had 
also the power of adjourning to any day he thought proper. 
In our old constitution, no such power was given to the chif^f 
magistrate to adjourn or dissolve. On the whole, this was 
the best preparatory plan for a monarchical government he 
had read. The Constitution of Great Britain he considered 
as the best monarchical one he ever perused ; and this new 
government came so near to it, that, as to our changing 
from a republic to a monarchy, it was what every body must 
naturally expect. How easy the transition ! No difficulty 
occurred in finding a kinj^:: the President was the man proper 
for this appointment. The Senate, hailing him a king, (con- 
stituted, according to Mr. Adams's description, from the well- 
born,) will naturally say to one anotlier, " You see how we 
are situated ; certainly it is for our country's benefit that we 
should be all lords;" and lords they are. 

Mr. Lowndes concluded his speech with thanking the 
house for their very great indulgence in permitting him to 
take up so much time. He hoped that the vast importance 
of the subject would plead his excuse. He also thanked 
those gentlemen on the other side of the question for the 
candid, fair manner in which they had answered his argu- 
ments Popularity was what he never courted ; but on this 
point he spoke merely to point out those dangers to which 
his fellow-citizens were exposed — dangers that were so evi- 
dent, that, when he ceased to exist, he wished for no other 
epitaph, than to have inscribed on his tomb, " Here lies the 
man that opposed the Constitution, because it was ruinous 
to the liberty of America." 

Hon. JOHN RUTLEDGE declared he had often heard 
the honorable gentleman with much pleasure ; but on the 
present occasion, he was astonished at his perseverance. 
Well mij|ht he apologize for his taking up the time of gentle- 
men, when, in the very outset, he declared that this Consti 
tution must necessarily be submitted to a future convention 

dl2 DEBATES. LLiNGouf. 

of ihe people. Why, then, enter so largely in argument on 
its merits, when the ultimate decision dej}ended on another 
body? Mr. Rutledge then took up an argument relative to 
treaties k.ot being paramount to the laws of the land. Was 
not the lajt treaty contrary to the Declaratory Act, and a great 
number o^ other acts of Parliament? Yet who ever doubted 
its validit} ? The gentleman had declared that his senti- 
ments were so much in contradiction to the voice of his con- 
stituents, tuat he did not expect to be appointed a member 
of the Couvention. Mr. Rutledge hoped he would be 
appointed, aud did not hesitate to pledge himself to prove, 
demonstrably, that all those grounds on which he dwelt so 
much amounted to nothing more than mere declamation; 
thai his boasted Confederation was not worth a farthing ; 
and iliat, if Mr. Chairman was intrenched in such instru- 
ments up to hw3 chin, they would not shield him from one 
single national calamity. So far from thinking that the sun 
of this country was obscured by the new Constitution, he 
did not doubt Ix-t that, whenever it was adopted, the sun of 
this state, uniteJ with twelve other suns, would exhibit a 
meridian radiance astonishing to the world. The gentle- 
man's obstinacy brought to his recollection a friend to this 
country, once a .iiember of that house, who said, *' It is gen- 
erally imputed tc me that I am obstinate. This is a mistake. 
I am not so, but sometimes hard to be convinced." 

Hon. PATRICK CALHOUN, of Ninety-six, mace some 
observations on ihe too great latitude allowed in religion. 

Hon. JAMES LINCOLN, of Ninety-six, declared, that 
if ever any persviu rose in a public assembly with diffidence, 
he then did ; if i;ver any person felt himself deeply interested 
in what he thought a good cause, and at the same time la- 
mented the want of abilities to support it, it was he. On a 
question on which gentlemen, whose abilities would do honor 
to the senate of ancient Rome, had enlarged with so much 
eloquence and learning, who could venture without anxiety 
and diffidence ? He had not the vanity to oppose his opin- 
ion to such men ; he had not the vanity to sup))0se he could 
place this business in any new light ; but the justice he owed 
to his constituents — the justice he owed to his own feelings, 
which would perhaps upbraid him hereafter, if he mdnlged 
himself so far as to give merely a silent vote on this p;reat 
(,uestion — impelled him, reluctantly impelled him, to intnido 


biniseir on the house. He had, for some years past, turnert 
his thoughts towards the politics of this country ; he long 
since perceived that not only the federal but the state Con- 
stitution required much the hand of correction and revision. 
They were both formed in times of confusion and distress, 
and it was a matter of wonder they were so free from defects 
as we found them. That they were imperfect, no one would 
deny; and that something must be done to remedy those 
imperfections, was also evident; but great care should be 
taken that, by endeavoring to do some good, we should not 
do an infinite deal of mischief. He had listened with eager 
attention to all the arguments in favor of the Constitution ; 
but he solemnly declared that the more he heard, the more 
he was persuaded of its evil tendency. What does this pro- 
|)osed Constitution do? It changes, totally changes, the 
form of your present government. From a well-digested, 
well-formed democratic, you are at once rushing into an 
aristocratic government. What have you been contending 
for these ten years past ? Liberty ! What is liberty ? The 
power of governing yourselves. If you adopt this Constitu- 
tion, have you this power ? No : you give it into the hands 
of a set of men who live one thousand miles distant from 
you. Let the people but once trust their liberties out of 
their own hands, and what will be the consequence ? First, 
a haughty, imperious aristocracy ; and ultimately, a tyranni- 
cal monarchy. No people on earth are, at this day, so free 
as the people of America. All other nations are, more or 
less, in a state of slavery. They owe their constitutions 
partly to chance, and partly to the sword ; but that of Amer- 
ica is the offspring of their choice — the darling of their 
bosom : and was there ever an instance in the world that a 
people in this situation, possessing all that Heaven could give 
on earth, all that human wisdom and valor could procure — 
was there ever a people so situated, as calmly and deliberatcrly 
to convene themselves together for the express purpose of 
considering whether they should give away or retain those 
inestimable blessings ? In the name of God, were we a 
parcel of children, who would cry and quarrel for a hobby- 
horse, which, when we were once in possession of, we 
quarrel with and throw it away ? It is said this Constitu- 
tion is an experiment ; but all regular-bred physicians are 
cantious of experiments. If the constitution be crazed a 
VOL. IV W) 27 


314 DEBATES. [LiNcoij*. 

little, or somewhat feeble, is it therefore necessary to kill ii 
in order to cure it ? Surely not. There are many parts of 
tliis Constitution he objected to : some few of them had not 
been mentionc^d ; he would therefore request some informa- 
tion thereon. The President holds his employment for four 
years; but he may hold it for fourteen times four years : in 
short, he may hold it so long that it will be imjwssible, with- 
out another revolution, to displace him. You do not put the 
same check on him that you do on your own state governor — 
a man born and bred among you ; a man over whom you 
have a continual and watchful eye ; a man who, from the 
very nature of his situation, it it almost impossible can do 
you any injury : this man, you say, shall not be elected for 
more than four years ; and yet this mighty, this omnipotent 
governor-general may be elected for years and years. 

He would be glad to know why, in this Constitution, there 
Is a total silence with regard to the liberty of the press. 
Was it forgotten ? Impossible ! Then it must have been 
purposely omitted ; and with what design, good or bad, he 
left the world to judge. The liberty of the press was the 
tyrant's scourge — it was the true friend and firmest sup- 
porter of civil liberty; therefore why pass it by in silence? 
He perceived that not till almost the very end of the Con- 
stitution was there any provision made for the nature or form 
of government we were to live under : he contended it should 
have l)een the very first article ; it should have been, as it 
were, the groundwork or foundation on which it should have 
been built. But how is it ? At the very end of the Constitu 
tion, there is a clause which says, — " The Congress of the 
United States shall guaranty to each state a republican form 
of government.'' But pray, who are the United States? — 
A President and four or five senators ? Pray, sir, what se- 
curity have we for a republican form of government, when 
it depends on the mere will and pleasure of a few men, who, 
with cm army, navy, and rich treasury at their back, may 
change and alter it as they please ? It may be said thev 
will be sworn. Sir, the king of Great Britain, at his coro- 
nation, swore to govern his subjects with justice and mercy. 
We were then his subjects, and continued so for a long time 
after. He would be glad to know how he observed his oath. 
If, then, the king of Great Britain forswore himself, what 
security have we that a future President and four or five 


senators — men like himself* — will think more solemnly of 
so sacred an obligation than he did ? 

VVhv was not this Constitution ushered in with the bill 
of rights? Are the people to have no rights? Perhaps this 
same President and Senate would, by and by, declare them. 
He much feared they would. He ccmcluded by returning 
his hearty thanks to the gentleman who had so nobly op- 
posed this Constitution : it was supporting the cause of the 
people ; and if ever any one deserved the title of man of 
the people, he, on this occasion, most certainly did. 

swered Mr. Lincoln on his objections. He said, that the 
time for which the President should hold his office, and 
vhether he should be reeligible, had been fully discussed in 
we Convention. It had been once agreed to by a majority, 
tiat he should hold his office for the term of seven years, 
but should not be reelected a second time. But upon re- 
considering that article, it was thought that to cut off all 
hopes from a man of serving again in that elevated sta- 
tion, might render him dangerous, or perhaps indifferent to 
the faithful discharge of his duty. His term of service might 
expire during the raging of war, when he might, perhaps, 
be the most capable man in America to conduct it; and 
would it be wise and prudent to declare in our Constitution 
that such a man should not again direct our military opera- 
tions, though our success might be owing to his abilities ? 
The mode of electing the President rendered undue influence 
almost impossible; and it would have been imprudent in us 
to have put it out of our power to reelect a man whose tal- 
ents, abilities, and integrity, were such as to render him the 
object of the g(*neral choice of his country. With regard to 
the liberty of the press, the discussion of that matter was 
not forgotten by the members of the Convention. It was 
fully debated, and the impropriety of saying any thing about 
it in the Constitution clearly evinced. The general govern- 
ment has no povveFS but what are expressly granted to it ; 
it therefore has no power to take away the liberty of the 
press. That invaluable blessing, which deserves all the en- 
comiums the gentleman has justly bestowed upon it, is 
secured by all our state constitutions ; and to have mentioned 
it in our general Constitution would perhaps furnish an ar- 
^iment, hereafter, that the general government had a right 

316 DEBATES. [Mason 

to exercise powers not expressly delegated to it. For the 
same reason, we had no bill of rights inserted in our Con- 
stitution ; for, as we might perhaps have omitted the enu- 
meration of some of our rights, it might hereafter be said 
we had delegated to the general government a power to 
take away such of our rights as we had not enumerated ; 
but by delegating express powers, we certainly reserve to 
ourselves every power and right not mentioned in the Con- 
stitution. Another reason weighed particularly, with the 
members from this state, against the insertion of a bill of 
rights. Such bills generally begin with declaring that all 
men are by nature born free. Now, we should make that 
declaration with a very bad grace, when a large part of our 
property consists in men who are actually born slaves. As 
to the clause guarantying to each state a republican form o^ 
government being inserted near the end of the Constitution, 
the general observed that it was as binding as if it had 
lieen inserted in the first article. The Constitution takes 
its effect from the ratification, and every part of it is to be 
ratified at the same time, and not one clause before the 
other ; but he thought there was a peculiar propriety in 
inserting it where it was, as it was necessary to form the 
government before that government could guaranty any thing. 

Col. MASON thanked Mr. Lowndes for his opposition, 
by the desire of several gentlemen, members of that house. 
It had drawn forth from the other side most valuable infor- 
inition, and he thanked those gentlemen for the willingness 
with which they had given it, with so much good-nature 
Those gentlemen who lived in the country were now ena- 
bled to satisfy their constituents. 

The questioi being put, that a convention of the people 
should be called for the purpose of considering, and of rat- 
ifying or rejecting, the Constitution framed for the United 
States by a Convention of delegates assembled at Philadel- 
phia in May last, it was unanimously agreed to. 

[There will appear some omissions in tchat fell from Mr. Lmondeb^ 
which could not he supplied, otoing to the loss of a notebook in the fire 
ttfhich consumed the State- HouseJ] 

Saturday, January 19, 1788. 

On the question being put for the Convention to assemble 
in Charleston on Monday, the 12th day of May next, the 
ayes aad nays were as follows, vi^*. : — 


For tbk Parishes or St. Philip and St. Michakl, CBARLCsioif. — ,^if€s - 
Edward Rutledge, Dr. David Ramsay, William Johnson, C C. Pinckncy; Edworl 
Dtrrell, Tboman Jones, Isaac Motte, John Mathews, Daniel Cannon, Dnniel Ste- 
vens, John Blake, Anthony Toomer, John F. Griinke, Thomas Heywoud, Jun., 
Richard Lusliinvton, Francis Kmloch, Jacob Read, £dward Blake, John Budd, Raw- 
lins Lowndes, Michael Kaltcisen, Thomas Bee, Adanus Burke, Hugh Rutledge, Ed- 
ward Lightwood. — J^ays: none. 

Christ Church. — Ayes: Charles Pinckney, Plowden Weston, Joseph Manigault, 
John Hatter. — Jfays: none. 

St. John's, Bkrklet County. — <^yes : Peter Fassoux, Theodore Qourdme, 
Thomas Simons. — jYays : Robert M'Kelvev, Gideon Kirke. 

St. Andrew's. — Ayes: John Rivers, Glen Drayton, Thomas Farr, James Ladson, 
Charles Drayton. — JSTay : William Scott. 

St. George's, Dorchester. — Ayes: John Glaze, Walter Izard, William Postellf 
John Bell. — J^ays: none. 

St. James's, Goosk Creek. — Ays: Ralph Izard, Gabriel Manigault, William 
Smith, John Parker, Jun. — J^Cays : none. 

St. Thomas, and St. Dennis. — Ayes: Thomas Screven, Robert Daniel, Thomas 
Shrubrick. — ^Vays : none. 

St. Paul's. — Ayts: George Haig, William Washmgton, Paul Hamilton. — JCays' 

St. Bartholomew's. — Ayes: William Furguaon, Peter Toungblood, William C. 
Snipes, John North. — Jfays : none. 

St. Helena. — Ayts: William Hazard Wigg, John Joyner, John Jenkins, Robert 
Barnwell, Benjamin Reynolds, Bernard Elliott. — JVay« : none. 

St. James's, Santee. — Ayes: Thomas Horry, Jacob Bond, TOn, William Doui* 
wint, Lewis Miles. — Nays: none. 

Prince Georoe's, Wintaw. — Ayes: Thomas Waties, Matthew Irvine. — Jfays 
} ames Withers, Thomas Dunbar. 

All Saints. — Ayes: Robert Herriot, Daniel Morral. — Kays: none. 

Prince Frederick's.^ Ayss: none. — JYays : John T. Green, John Dicky, Ben 
^amin Porter, James Petligrew. 

St. John's, Colleton County. — Ayes: Isaac Jenkins, William Smelie. — Kays. 

St. Peter's. — Ayes: none. — Kays: James Thompoon, John Chisholm, Joha 
***enwick, Samuel Maner. 

Prince William's. — Ayes: Pierce Butler, John Lightwood, John A. Cuthbert.— 
.Yom; Stephen Bull, William Murray. 

St. Stephen's. — Ayes : none. — Kays : Thomas Palmer, John Coutuier, T 

District to thx Eastward op Wateree. — ^yM.* none. — JVby«: Isaac Alex- 
ander, Thomas Sumter, Andrew Baskins, Joseph Lee, Thomas M'Faddin, G^rge 
Cooper, Benjamin Cudworth, Samuel Dunlap, Hugh White. 

District of Ninety-six. — Ayes : Patrick Calhoun, John Purvis. — Kays: Arthut 
8impkins, James Lincoln, Adam Crain Jones, William Butler. 

District of Saze-Gotha. — ^ye«; none. — Aay#: Joseph Culpeper, Henry 
Pendleton, John Threewits, Llewellen Threewits. 

Lower Districts, between Broad and Saluda Rivers. — Ayes: none. Kays 
Philemon Waters, C^rge Ruff, John Lindsay, William Wadling^n. 

Little River District. — Ayes: none. — Kays: John Hunter, Angus Campbel, 
Levi Casey, James Mason. 

Upper, or Spartan* District. — Ayes: none. — JVays .* Thomas Brandon, 8. 
MVnnkin Winn, James Craig, John Gray, James Knox, John Turner, Aromanos 
Lyles, John Cook, James Pedian. 

District called the New AcquisiTioN. — Ayes: none. — Kays: Andrew Love, 
lames Powell, William Fergus, William Bratton, Robert Patton, James RamsLy, 
John Drennan, James Martin, Joseph Palmer, Alexander Moore. 

St Matthew's. ^^tf^f; none. — Kays: Thomas Sabb, J. Frierson, Paul Warley 

Orange Parish. — Ayes: none. — Kays: William Robinson, Lewis Lesterjette. 

Srr. David's. — Ayes : none. — Kays : Calvin Spencer, Robert Baxwill, A. Hunter 

District between Savannah River and the North Fork of Edisto. — 
Ayes: none. — Kays: William Davis, Isaac Cush, James Fair, Daniel Greene. 

J9ye$^ 76. | JVay*, 7S 

So It was resolved in the affirmative. 




Monday, May 12, 1788. 

This day being appointed for the meeting of the state Convention, (Mr. 
Thomas Bee, in the chair, j^ro tem.^) the returns were read, and there not 
bcin£r a majority, adjourned until Tuesday, the 13th. , 

Tuesday, May 13, 1788. 

On this day the Convention met, and the names being called over, there 
appeared to be present one hundred and seventy-three members; upon 
which they proceeded to ballot, when 

His excellency, Governor THOMAS PINCKNEY, was elected Prtsu 

Colonel JOHN SANDFORD DART was elected Secretary. 

Mr. Atmore, Messenger. Mr. Athwell, Door-keeper. Mr. John 
Bounetheau, Bar-keeper. Mr. Stevens, Cashier. Colonel Lushington, 

Wednesday, May 14, 1788. 

Speech of Mr. CHARLES PINCKNEY, {one of the dele- 

gates of tlie Federal Convention.) 

Mr. President, after so much has been said with respect 
to the powers possessed by the late Convention to form and 
propose a new system — after so many observations have 
been made on its leading principles, as well in the House of 
Representatives as in the conventions of other states, w hose 
proceedings have been published — it will be as unnecessary 
for me again minutely to examine a subject which has been 
so thoroughly investigated, as it would be difficult to carry 
you into a field that has not been sufficiently explored. 

Having, however, had the honor of being associated in the 
delegation from this state, and presuming upon the indul- 
gence of the house, I shall proceed to make some observations 
which appear to me necessary to a full and candid discussion 
of the system now before us. 

It seems to be generally confessed that, of all sciences, that 
of government, or politics, is the most difficult. In the old 
world, as far as the lights of history extend, from the earliest 
ages to our own, we find nations in the constant exercise of 
all the forms with which the world is at present furnished. 
We have seen among the ancients, as well as the moderns, 
monarchies, limited and absolute, aristocracies, republics o< 


a single state, and federal unions. But notwithstanding all 
their experience, how confined and imperfect is jheir knowl- 
edge of government ! how little is the true doctrine of repre- 
sentaticn understood ! how few states enjoy what we call 
freedom ! how few governments answer those great ends of 
public happiness which we seem to expect from our own ! 

In reviewing such of the European states as we are best 
acquainted with, we may with truth assort that there is but 
one among the most important which confirms to its citizens 
their civil liberties, or provides for the security of private 
rights. But as if it had been fated that we should be the 
first perfectly free people the world had ever seen, even the 
government I have alluded to withholds from a part of its 
subjects the equal enjoyment of their religious liberties. 
How many thousands of the subjects of Great Britain at this 
moment labor Under civil disabilities, merely on account of 
their religious persuasions ! To the liberal and enlightened 
mind, the rest of Europe affords a melancholy picture of the 
depravity of human nature, and of the total subversion of 
those rights, without which we should suppose no people 
could be happy or content. 

We have been tnught here to believe that all power of 
right belongs to the people ; that it flows immediately from 
them, and is delegated to their officers for the public good; 
that our rulers are the servants of the people, amenable to 
their will, and created for their use. How different are the 
governments of Europe ! There the people are the servants 
and subjects of their rulers; there merit and talents have 
little or no influence ; bur all the honors and offices of govern- 
ment are swallowed up by birth, by fortune, or by rank. 

From the European world are no precedents to be drawn 
for a people who think they are capable of governing them- 
selves. Instead of receiving instruction from them, we may, 
with pride, affirm that, new as this country is in point of 
settlement, inexperienced as she must be upon questions of 
government, she still has read more useful lessons to the old 
world, she has made them more acquainted with their own 
rights, than they had been otherwise for centuries. It is with 
pride I repeat that, old and experienced as they are, they 
are indebted to us for light and refinement upon points of all 
olliers the most interesting. 

Had the American revolution not happened, would Ireland 


enjoy her present rights of commerce and legislation ? Would 
the subjects jdF the emperor in the Netherlands have presumed 
to contend for, and ultimately to secure, the privileges they 
demanded ? Would the parliaments of France have resisted 
the edicts of their monarch, and justified in a language that 
will do honor to the freest peoj)le ? Nay, I may add, would 
a becoming sense of liberty, and of the rights of mankind, 
have so generally pervaded that kingdom, had not thuir 
knowledge of America led them to the investigation ? Un- 
doubtedly not. Let it be therefore our boast that we have 
already taught some of the oldest and wisest nations to ex- 
plore their rights as men ; and let it be our prayer that the 
effects of the revolution may nc^ver cease to operate until 
they have unshackled all the nations that have firmness to 
resist the fetters of despotism. Without a precedent, and 
with the experience of but a few years, were the Convention 
called upon to form a system for a people differing from all 
others we are acquainted with. 

The first knowledge necessary for us to acquire. Was a 
knowledge of the |)eople for whom this system was to be 
formed ; for unless we were acquainted with their situation, 
their habits, opinions, and resources, it would be impossible 
to form a government upon adequate or practicable principles. 

If we examine the reasons which have given rise to the 
distinctions of rank that at present prevail in Europe, we 
shall find that none of them do, or in all probability ever 
will, exist in the Union. 

The only distinction that may take place is that of wealth. 
Riches, no doubt, will ever have their influence; and where 
they are suffered to increase to large amounts in a few hands, 
there they may become dangerous to the public — partic- 
ularly when, from the cheapness of lal)or and the scarcity of 
money, a great proportion of the people are |)oor. These, 
however, are dangers that I think we have very little to 
apprehend, for these reasons : One is from the destruction 
of the right of primogeniture ; by which means, the estates 
of intestates are equally to be divided among all their chil- 
dren — a provision no less consonant to the principles of 
a republican government, than it is to those of general equity 
and parental affection. To endeavor to raise a name b}' 
accumulating property in one branch of a family, at the ex 
pcnse of others equally related and deserving, is a vanity no 

hiicKirir-1 • SOUTH CAROLINA. 32 i 

less unjust and cruel than dangerous to the interests of liberty 
ii is a practice no wise state will ever encourage or tolerate 
la the Northern and Eastern States, such distinctions among 
children are seldom heard of. Laws have been long since 
passed in all of them, destroying the right of primogeniture , 
and as laws never fail to have a powerful influence upon the 
manners of a people, we may suppose that, in future, an 
equal division of property among children will, in general, 
take place in all the states, and one means of amassing inor- 
dinate wealth in the hands of individuals be, as it ought, 
forever removed. 

Another reason is that, in the Eastern and Northern States, 
the landed property is nearly equally divided : very few have 
large bodies, and there are few that have not small tracts. 

The greater part of the people are employed in cultivating 
their own lands ; the rest in handicraft and commerce. They 
are frugal in their manner of living. Plain tables, clothing, 
and furniture, prevail in then* houses, and expensive appear- 
ances are avoided. Among the landed interest, it may be 
truly said there are few of them rich, and few of them very 
poor ; nor, while the states are capable of supporting so many 
more inhabitants than they contain at present — while so vast 
a territory on our frontier remains uncultivated and unexplored 
— while the means of subsistence are so much within every 
man's power — are those dangerous distinctions of fortune to 
be expected which at present prevail in other countries. 

The [leople of 'the Union may be classed as follows: 
Commercial men, who will be of consequence or not, in the 
political scale, as commerce may be made an object of the 
attention of government. As far as I am able to judge, and 
presuming that proper sentiments will ultimately prevail upon 
this subject, it does not appear to me that the commercial 
line will ever have much influence in the politics of the 
Union. Foreign trade is one of the enemies against which 
we must be extremely guarded — more so than against any 
other, as none will ever have a more unfavorable operation. 
I consider it as the root of our present public distress — as 
the plentiful source from which our future national calamities 
will flow, unless great care is taken to prevent it. Divided 
as we are from the old world, we should have nothing to do 
with their politics, and as little as possible with their ccm- 

VOL. IV. 41 

)22 DEBATES. * IPiNcufvT. 

morcc : they can never improve, but must inevitably cor- 
rupt us. 

Another clnss is that of professional men, who, from their 
education and pursuits, must ever have a considerable influ- 
ence, while your government retains the republican princi- 
ple, and its affairs. are agitated in assemblies of the people. 

The third, with whom I will connect the mechanical, as 
generally attached to them, are the landed interest — the 
owners and cultivators of the soil — the men attached to the 
truest interests of their country from those motives which 
always bind and secure the affections of the nation. In 
these consists the great body of the people ; and here rests, 
and I hope ever will continue, all the authority of the 

I remember once to have seen, in the writings of a very 
celebrated author upon national wealth, the following re- 
marks: "Finally,'' says he, "there are but three ways for 
a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the 
Romans did in plundering their conquered neighbors : this is 
robbery. The second is by commerce, which is generally 
cheating. The third is by agriculture, the only honest way, 
wherein a man receives a real increase of the seed thrown 
into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle wrought by 
the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent 
life and virtuous industry." 

I do not agree with him so far as to suppose that com- 
merce is generally cheating. I think there are some kinds 
of commerce not only fair and valuable, but such as ought to 
be encouraged by government. 1 agree with him in this 
general principle — that all the great objects of government 
should be subs(Tvient to the increase of agriculture and the 
support of the landed interest, and that commerce should 
only be so far attended to, as it may serve to improve and ' 
strength(»n them ; thit the object of a republic is to render 
its citizens virtuous and happy ; and that an unlimited 
foreign commerce can seldom fail to have a contrary tend- 

These classes compose the people of the Union; and, 
tortunately for their harmony, they may be said in a great 
measure to be connected with and dependent upon each 

The merchant is dependent upon the planter, as the pur- 


chaser of his imports, and as furnishing him with the means 
of his remittances. The professional men depend upon both 
for employment in their respective pursuits, and are, in their 
turn, useful to both. The landholder, though the most inde- 
pendent of the three, is still, in some measure, obliged to 
the merchant for furnishing him at home with a ready sale 
for his productions. 

From this mutual dependence, and the statement I have 
made respecting the situation of the people of the Union, 
I am led to conclude that mediocrity of fortune is a leading 
feature in our national character ; that most of the causes 
which lead to destructions of fortune among other nations 
being removed, and causes of equality existing with us 
which are not to be found among them, we may with safety 
assert that the great body of national wealth is nearly 
equally in the hands of the people, among whom there are 
few dangerously rich or few miserably poor; that we may 
congratulate ourselves with living under the blessings of a 
mild and equal government, which knows no distinctions 
but those of merits or talents — under a government whose 
honors and offices are equally open to the exertions of all her 
citizens, and which adopts virtue and worth for her own, 
wheresoever she can find them. 

Another distinguishing feature in our Union is its division 
into individual states, differing in extent of territory, man- 
ners, population, and products. 

Those who are acquainted with the Eastern States, the 
reason of their original migration, and their pursuits, habits, 
and principles, well know that they are essentially different 
from those of the Middle and Southern States ; that they 
retain all those opinions respecting religion and government 
which first induced their ancestors to cross the Atlantic ; and 
that they are, perhaps, more purely republican in habits and 
sentiment than any other part of the Union. The inhabit- 
ants of New York and the eastern part of New Jersey — 
originally Dutch settlements — seem to have altered less than 
might have been expected in the course of a century ; indeed, 
the greatest part of New York may still be considered as a 
Dutch settlement, the people in the interior country gen- 
erally using that language in their families, and having very 
little varied their ancient customs. Pennsylvania and Del- 
aware are nearly one half inhabited by Quakers, whose 


3^ DEBATES. [Pu^c^Ksv. 

passive principles upon questions of government, and rigid 
ppinions in ptivatc, render them extremely different from the 
citizens either of the Eastern or Southern States. Maryland 
was originally a lioman Catholic colony, and a great number 
of their inhabitants, some of them the most u'eaithy and culti- 
vated, are still of* this persuasion. It is unnecessary for me 
to state the striking difference in sentiment and habit which 
nmst always exist between the Independents of the East — 
the Calvinists and Quakers of the Middle States, and the 
Roman Catholics of Maryland ; but striking as this is, it is 
not to be compared with the difference that there is between 
the inhabitants of the Northern and Southern States. When 
I say Southern, I mean Maryland, and tlie states to the south- 
ward of her. Here we may truly observe, that Nature has 
drawn as strong marks of distinction in the habits and man- 
ners of the people as she has in her climates and productions. 
The southern citizen beholds, with a k'md of surprise, tho 
simple manners of the east, and is too often induced tc 
entertain undeserved opinions of the apparent purity of the 
Quaker ; while they, in their turn, seem concerned at what 
^hey term the extravagance and dissipation of their southern 
friends, and reprobate, as unpardonable moral and political 
evil, the dominion they hold over a part of the human race. 
The inconveniences which loo frequently attend these differ- 
ences in habits and opinions among the citizens that compose 
the Union, are not a little increased by the variety of their 
state governments ; for, as I have already observed, the con- 
stitution or laws under which a people live never fail to have 
a powerful effect upon the manners. We know that all the 
states have adhered, in their forms, to the republican prin- 
ciple, though they have differed widely in their opinions of 
the mode best calculated to preserve it. 

In Pennsylvania and Georgia, the whole powers of govern- 
ment are lodged in n legislative body, of a single branch, 
over which there is no control ; nor are their executives or ju- 
dicial, from their connection and necessary dependence on 
the legislature, capable of strictly executing their respective 
offices. In all the other states, except Maryland, Massachu- 
setts, and New York, they are only so far improved as to 
bave a legislature with two branches, which completely 
involve and swallow up all the powers of their government. 
In neither of these are the judicicil or executive placed in 


that firm or independent situation which can alorte secure the 
safety of the people or the just administration of the lawSi 
In Maryland, one branch of their legislature is a Senat^^ 
chosen, for five years, by electors chosert by the people. 
The knowledge and firmness which this body have, upon all 
occasions, displayed, not only in the exercise of their legis- 
lative duties, but in withstanding and defeating such of the 
projects of the other house as appeared to them founded in 
local and personal motives, have long since convinced me 
that the Senate of Maryland is the best model of a senate 
that has yet been offered to the Union ; that it is capable of 
correcting many of the vices of the other parts of theii* 
Constitution, and, in a great measure, atoning for thosiS 
defects which, in common with the states I have mentioned^ 
are but too evident in their execution — the want of stability 
and independence in the judicial and executive departmeilts. 
In Massachusetts, we fitid the principle of legislation moire 
improved by the revisionary power which is given to their 
n;overnor, and the independence of their judges. 

In New York, the same improvement in legislation has 
taken place as in Massachusetts ; but here, froUi the execu- 
tive's being elected by the great body of the people ; holding 
his office for three years, and being reeligible ; from the 
appointment to offices being taken from the legislature and 
placed in a select council, — I think their Constitution is, 
upon the whole, the best in the Union. Its faults are the 
want of permanent salaries to their judges, and giving to 
their executive the nomination to offices, which is, in fact, 
giving him the appointment. 

It does not, however, appear to me, that this can be called 
d vice of their system, as I have always been of bpinion that 
^he insisting upon the right to nominate was a usurpation of 
their executive's, not warranted by the letter or meaning of 
their Constitution. 

These are the outlines of their various forms, in few ot 
which are their executive or judicial departments wisely con- 
structed, or that solid distinction adopted between the 
branches of their legislative which can alone provide for thd 
influence of different principles in their operation. 

Much difficulty was expected from the extent of country 
to be {governed. All the republics we read of, either iti th^ 
ancient or modern world, have been extremely limited in 



terril )ry. Wo know of none a tenth part so large as the 
United Slates ; indeed, we are hardly able to determine, 
from the lights we are furnished with, whether the gov- 
ernments we have heard of under the names of republics 
really deserved them, or whether the ancients ever had any 
just or proper ideas upon the subject. Of the doctrine of 
representation, the fundamental of a republic, they certainly 
were ignorant. If they were in possession of any other safe 
or practicable principles, they have long since been lost and 
forgotten to the world. Among the other honors, therefore, 
that have been reserved for the American Union, not the 
least considerable of them is that of defining a mixed sys- 
tem, by which a people may govern themselves, possessin{ 
all the virtues and benefits, and avoiding all the dangers am 
inconveniences, of the three simple forms. 

I have said that the ancient confederacies, as far as we 
are acquainted with them, covered up an inconsiderable 

Among the moderns, in our sense of the word, there is no 
such system as a confederate republic. There are, indeed, 
some small states whose interior governments are demo- 
cratic ; but these are too inconsiderable to afford information. 
The Swiss cantons are only connected by alliances ; the 
Germanic body is merely an association of potentates, roost 
of them absolute in their own dominions ; and as to the 
United Netherlands, it is such a confusion of states and 
assemblies, that I have always been at loss what species of 
government to term it. According to my idea of the word, il 
is not a republic ; for I conceive it as indispensable, in a 
republic, that all authority should flow from the people. In 
the United f Netherlands, the people have no interference 
either in the election of their magistrate or in the affairs of 
government. From the experiment, therefore, never having 
been fairly made, opinions have been entertained, and sanc- 
tioned by high authorities, that republics are only suited to 
small societies. This opinion has its advocates among all 
those who, not having a sufficient share of industry or talents 
to investigate for themselves, easily adopt the opinions of 
such authors as are supposed to have written with ability 
upon the ^subject; but I am led to believe other opinions 
begin to prevail — opinions more to be depenaed upon, 
because they result fromjiisier principles. 

We begin now to suppose that the evils of a republic — 


dissension, tumult, and faction — are more dangerous in 
small societies than in large confederate states. In the first, 
the people are easily assembled and inflamed — are always 
exposed to those convulsive tumults of infatuation and en 
thusiasm which often overturn all public order. In the latter, 
the multitude will be less imperious, and consequently loss 
inconstant, because the extensive territory of each republic 
and the number of citizens, will not permit them all 
assembled at one time and in one place : the sphere of gov- 
ernment being enlarged, it will not easily be in the power of 
factious and designing men to infect the whole people ; il 
will give an opportunity to the more temperate and prudent 
part of the society to correct the licentiousness and injustice 
of the rest. We have strong proofs of the truth of this 
opinion in the examples of Rhode Island and Massachusetts 
— instances which have, perhaps, been critically afforded by 
an all-merciful Providence to evince the truth of a position 
extremely important to our present inquiries. In the former, 
the most contracted society in the Union, we have seen their 
licentiousness so far prevail as to seize the reins of govern- 
ment, and oppress the people by laws the most infamous that 
have ever disgraced a civilized nation. In the latter, where 
the sphere was enlarged, similar attempts have been rendered 
abortive by the zeal and activity of those who were opposed 
to them. 

As the Constitution before you is intended to represent 
states as well as citizens, I have thought it necessary to make 
these remarks, because there are, no doubt, a great number 
of the members of this body, who, from their particular pur 
suits, have not had an opportunity of minutely investigating 
them, and because it will be impossible for the house fairly 
to determine whether the government is a proper one or not, 
unless they are in some degree acquainted with the people 
and the states, for whose use it is instituted. 

For a people thus situated is a government to be formed - 
a people who have the justest opinion of their civil and reli- 
gious rights, and who have risked every thing in asserting 
and defending them. 

In every government there necessarily exists a power from 
which there is no appeal, and which, for that reason, may 
be formed absolute and uncontrollable. 

The person or assembly in whom this power resides is 

928 DEBATE8. [Puvcknki 

called the sovereign or supreme power of the state. Witli 
us, the sovereignty of the Union is in the people. 

One of the best political and moral writers (Paley, a dea- 
con of Carlisle — vol, ii. 174, 175) I have met with, enu- 
merates three principal forms of government, which, he says, 
are to be regarded rather as the simple forms, by some com- 
bination and intermixture of which all actual governments 
arci composed, than as any where existing in a pure and ele- 
mentary state. These forms are, — 

1st. Despotism, or absolute monarchy, where the legisla- 
ture is in a single person. 

2d. An aristocracy, where the legislature is in a select 
assembly, the members of which either fill up, by election, 
the vacancies in their own body, or succeed to it by inherit- 
ance, property, tenure of lands, or in respect of some per- 
sonal right or qualification. 

3d. A republic, where the people at large, either collec- 
tively or by representation, form the legislature. 

The separate advantages of monarchy are unity of council, 
decision, secrecy, and despatch ; the military strength and 
energy resulting from these qualities of government ; the 
exclusion of popular and aristocratical contentions ; the pre- 
venting, by a known rule of succession, all competition for 
the supreme power, thereby repressing the dangerous hopes 
and intrigues of aspiring citizens. 

The dangers of a monarchy are tyranny, expense, exac- 
tions, military dominations, unnecessary wars, ignorance, in 
the governors, of the interest and accommodation of all people, 
and a consequent deficiency of salutary regiilations; want of 
constancy and uniformity in the rules of government, and, 
proceeding from thence, insecurity of persons and property. 

The separate advantage of an aristocracy is the wisdom 
that may be expected from experience and education. A 
permanent council naturally possesses experience, and the 
members will always be educated with a view to the stations 
they are destined by their birth to occupy. 

The mischiefs of an aristocracv are dissensions in the rul- 
mg orders of the slate ; an oppression of the lower orders by 
the privilege of the higher, and by laws partial to the sepa- 
rate interests of the law-makers. 

The advantages ot a republic are liberty, exemption from 
needless restrictions, equal laws, public spirit, averseness tc* 


Hrar, frugality, — above all, the opportunit'ujs afibrded) to men 
of every description, of producing their abilities and counsels 
to public observation, and the exciting to the service of the? 
common wealth the faculties of its best citizens. 

The evils of a republic are dissensions, tumults, faction, 
the attempts of ambitious citizens to possess {)ower, the con 
fusion and clamor which are the inevitable consequences of 
propounding questions of state to the discussion of large 
popular assemblies, the delay and disclosure of the public 
councils, and too often the imbecility of the laws. 

A mixed government is composed by the combination ot 
two or more of the simple forms aliove described ; and in 
whatever proportion each form enters into the constitution 
of government, in the same proportion may both the advan- 
tages and evils which have been attributed to that form be 

The citizens of the United States would reprobate, with 
ndignation, the idea of a monarchy. But the essential 
qualities of a monarchy — unity of council, vigor, secrecy, 
^nd despatch — are qualities essential in every government. 

While, therefore, we have reserved to the people, the foun- 
rain of all power, the periodical election of their first magis- 
t rate, — while we have defined his powers, and bound them 
to such limits as will eifectually prevent his usurping author- 
ities dangerous to the general welfare, — we have, at the 
same time, endeavored to infuse into this department Ihat 
Jegree of vigor which will enable the President to execute 
^ he laws with energy and despatch. 

By constructing the Senate upon rotative principles, we 
liave removed, as will be shown upon another occasion, all 
danger of an aristocratic influence ; while, by electing the 
■JJembers for six years, we hope we have given to this part 
^f the system all the advantages of an aristocracy — wisdom, 
experience, and a consistency of measures. 

The House of Representatives, in which the people of the 
Union are proportionably represented, are to be biennially 
elected by them. Those appointments are sufficiently short 
^o render the member as dependent as he ought to be upon 
liis constituents. 

They are the moving-spring of the system. With them 
«ul grants of money are to originate : on them depend the 
Wars we shall be engaged in, the fleets and armies we shaJ 
VOL. IV. 42 


raise and support, the salaries we shall |jay ; in short, on 
theoi depend the appropriations of money, and consequently 
all the arrangements of government. . With this powerful 
influence of the purse, they will be always able to restrain the 
usurpati(»ns of the other departments, while their own licen- 
tiousness will, in its turn, be checked and corrected by them. 

I trust that, when we proceed to review the system by 
sections, it will be found to contain all those necessary pro- 
visions and restraints, which, while they enable the general 
government to guard and protect our common rights as a 
nation, to restore to us those blessings of commerce and 
mutual confidence which have been so long removed and 
impaired, will secure to us those rights, which, as the citi- 
zens of a state, will make us happy and content at home — 
as the citizens of the Union, respectable abroad. 

How different, Mr. President, is this government con- 
structed from any we have known among us! 

In their individual capacities as citizens, the people are 

Eroportionably represented in the House of Representatives, 
[ere they who are to pay to support the expenses of gov- 
ernment, have the purse-strings in their hands; here the 
people hold, and feel that they possess, an influence suf- 
ficiently powerful to prevent every undue attempt of the 
other branches, to maintain that weight in the political scale 
which, as the source of all authority, they should ever pos- 
sess'; here, too, the states, whose existence as such we have 
often heard predicted as precarious, will find, in the Senate, 
the guards of their rights as political associations. 

On them (I mean the state systems) rests the general 
fabric : on their foundation is this magnificent structure of 
freedom erected, each depending upon, supporting, and pro- 
tecting the other : nor — so intimate is the connection — can 
the one be removed without prostrating the other in ruin : 
like the head and the body, separate them and they die. 

Far be it from me to suppose that such an attempt should 
ever be made the good sense and virtue of our country for- 
bid the idea. To the Union we will look up, as to the tem- 
ple of our freedom — a temple founded in the aflfections, and 
supported by the virtue, of the people. Here we will pour 
out our giatitude to the Author of all good, for suflTering 
us to participate in the rights of a people who govern them- 


Is there, at this moment, a nation upon earth that cnjojs 
this right, where the true principles of representation are 
understood and practised, and where all authority flows from, 
ind returns at stated periods to, the people? I answer, 
there is not. Can a government l>e said to be free where 
these rights do not exist ? It cannot. On what dependis 
the enjoyment of these rare, these inestimable privileges? 
On the firmness, on the power, of the Union to protect and 
defend them. 

How grateful, then, should we be^ that, at this important 
period, — a period important, not to us alone, but to the 
general rights of mankind, — so much harmony and conces- 
sion should prevail throughout the states; that the public 
opinion should be so much actuated by candor, and an atten- 
tion to their general interests ; that, disdaining to be governed 
by the narrow motives of state policy, they have liberally de- 
termined to dedicate a part of their advantages to the support 
of that government from which they received them ! To 
fraud, to force, or accidei.t, all the governments we know 
have owed their births. To the philosophic mind, how new 
and awful an instance do the United States at present 
exhibit in the political world ! They exhibit, sir, the first 
instance of a people, who, being dissatisfied with their gov- 
ernment, — unattacked by foreign force, and undisturbed by 
domestic uneasiness, — coolly and deliberately resort to the 
virtue and good sense of their country, for a correction of 
their public errors. 

It must be obvious that, without a superintending govern- 
ment, it is impossible the liberties of this country cctn long 
be secured. 

Single and unconnected, how weak and contemptible are 
the largest of our states ! — how unable to protect themselves 
from external or domestic insult ! How incompetent to na- 
tional purposes would even partial union be ! — how liable 
to intestine wars and confusion! — how little able to secure 
the blessings of peace ! 

Let us, therefore, be careful in strengthening the Union. 
Let us remember that we are bounded by vigilant and at 
tentive neighbors, who view with a jealous eye our rise to 

Let us remember that we are bound, in gratitude to oui 
northern brethren, to aid them in the recovery of those rights 

332 DEBATES [Tweed. 

wiiich they have lost in obtaining for us an extension of our 
commerce, and the security of our liberties. Let us not be 
unmindful that those who are weak, and may expect sup- 
|X)rt, must, in their turn, be ready to afford it. 

We are called upon to execute an important trust — to 
examine the principles of the Constitution now before you, 
and, in the name of the people, to receive or reject it. 

I have no doubt we shall do this with attention and har- 
mony ; and flatter myself that, at the conclusion of our dis- 
cussion, we shall find that it is not only expedient, but safe 
and honorable, to adopt it. 

Tuesday, May 20, 1788. 

This day the Convention went through the discussion of 
the Federal Constitution by paragraphs. 
Mr. ALEXANDER TWEED, of Prince Frederick, said : 

' Since I came to town, I have more than once heard it as- 
serted, that the representatives of the parish of Prince Fred- 
erick were, prior to their election, put under promise to their 
constituen^ts, that they should by no means give their sanc^ 
tion to the adoption of the new Constitution. Any such 
restriction, sir, on my own part, I deny. Had they taken 
upon them so far as to dictate for me, I shou d have spurned 
at the idea, and treated such proposals with that contempt 

\ they would have justly merited ; and I am clearly of opin- 
ion, and I think warranted to say, that these are the senti- 
ments and situation of Tat least) some others of mj colleagues. 
Notwithstanding, sir, from all I have heard or can learn, the 

fenerar voice of the people is against it. For my own part, 
Ir. President, I came not here to echo the voice of mvcon- 
stituents, nor determined to approve or put a negative upon 
the Constitution proposed. I came with a mind open to 
conviction, in order to hear what, in the course of the debates 
of this house, might be said for and against it. Much, very 
much, sir, has been advanced on both sides. The matter in 
hand I look upon to be the most important and momentous 
that ever came before the representatives of the people of 
South Carolina. We were told, sir, some days ago, by a 
learned and honorable gentleman now on the floor, that, as 
our case at present stood, we must adopt the Constitution 
proposed ; for, if we did not, in all probability some power- 
ful despot might start up and seize the reins of government 


Another learned and honorable gentleman on my left hand 
said, we must look up to it as the rock of our salvation. To 
make short, sir, necessitas non habet legem was the word. 

Those gentlemen, Mr. President, and some others, mem- 
bers of this respectable Convention, — whose profound ora- 
tory and elocution would, on the journals of a British House 
of Commons, stand as lasting monuments of their great 
abilities, — a man of my circumscribed scale of talents is noi 
adequate to the task of contending with ; nor have I a turri 
for embellishing my language, or bedecking it with all tb<^ 
flowers of rhetoric. In a word, Mr. President, my idea ol 
the matter now under our consideration is, that we very much 
stand in need of a reform of government, as the very sinews 
of our present constitution are relaxed. But, sir, 1 would 
fondly hope that our case is not so bad as represented. Arc 
we invaded by a foreign enemy? Or are the bowels of our 
country torn to pieces by insurrections and intestine broils ? 
I answer. No. 

Sir, admit but this, and then allow me to ask if history 
furnishes us with a single instance of any nation, state, or 
people, who had it more in their power than we at present 
have to frame for ourselves a perfect, perm^uient, free, and 
happy constitution. The Constitution, sir, now under con- 
sideration, was framed (I shall say) by the wisdom of a Gen- . 
eral Convention of the United States ; it now lies before us 
to wait our concurrence or disapprobation. We, sir, as citi- 
zens and freemen, have an undoubted right of judging for 
ourselves ; it therefore behoves us most seriously to consider, 
before we determine a matter of such vast magnitude. We 
are not acting for ourselves alone, but, to all appearance, for 
generations unborn. 

Speech of Mr. CHARLES PINCKNEY, on the lOth Section 
of Article \st of the Federal Constitution. 

This section I consider as the soul of the Constitution, — as 
containing, in a few words, those restraints upon the states, 
which, while they keep them from interfering with th^ pow- 
ers of the Union, will leave them always in a situation to 
comply with their federal duties — will teach them to culti- 
vate those principles of public honor and private honesty 
which are the sure road to national character and happiness 


^rhc only parts of this section that are objected to are 
those which relate to the emission of paper money, and its 
consequences, tender-laws, and the impairing the obligation 
of contracts. 

The other parts are supposed as exclusively belonging to, 
and such as ought to be vested in, the Union. 

If we consider the situation of the United States as they 
are at present, either individually or as the members of a 
general confederacy, we shall find it extremely improper 
they should ever be intrusted with the power of emitting 
money, or interfering in private contracts ; or, by means of 
tender-laws, impairing the obligation of contracts. 

1 apprehend these general reasonings will be found true 
with respect to paper money : That experience has shown 
that, in e\^ry state where it has been practised since the 
revolution, it always carries the gold and silver out of the 
country, and imj)overishes it — that, while it remains, all the 
foreign merchants, trading in America, must suffer and lose 
by it ; therefore, that it must ever be a discouragement to 
commerce — that every medium of trade should have an in- 
trinsic value, which paper money has not ; gold and silver 
are therefore the fittest for this medium, as they are an equiva- 
lent, which paper can never be — that debtors in the assem- 
blies will, whenever they can, make paper money with 
fraudulent views — that in those states where the credit of the 
paper money has been best sup|)orted, the bills have never 
kei)t to their nominal value in circulation, but have constantly 
depreciated to a certain degree. 

I consider it as a granted position that, while the produc- 
tions of a state are useful to other countries, and can find a 
ready sale at foreign markets, there can be no doubt of their 
always being able to command a sufficient sum in specie to 
answer as a medium for the purposes of carrying on this 
commerce ; provided there is no paper money, or other means 
of conducting it. This, I think, will be the case even in 
instances where the balance of trade is against a state ; but 
where the balance is in favor, or where there is nearly as 
much exported as imported, there can be no doubt that the 
products will be the means of always introducing a sufficient ' 
quantity of specie. 

If we were to be governed by partial views, and each state 
was only to consider how far a general regulation suited hei 


own interests, I think it can be proved there is no state in 
the Union which ought to be so anxious to have this part of 
the Constitution passed as ourselves. 

We are to reflect that this Constitution is not framed to 
answer temporary purposes. We hope it will last for ages 
— that it will be the perpetual protector of our rights and 

This state is, {)erhaps, of all others, more blessed in point 
of soil and productions than any in the Union. Notwith- 
standing all her sufferings by the war, the great quantity of 
lands still uncultivated, and the little attention she pays tP 
the improvement of agriculture, she already exports more 
than any state in the Union, (except Virginia,) and in a 
little time must exceed her. 

Exports are a surer mode of determining the productive 
wealth of a country than any other, and particularly when 
these products are in great demand in foreign countries. 

Thus circumstanced, where can be the necessity of paper 
money ? Will you not have specie in sufficient quantities ^ 
Will you not have more money in circulation without paper 
money than with it ? — I mean, without having only paper in 
such quantities as you are able to maintain the credit of, as 
at present. I aver you may, and appeal only to the experi- 
ence of the last five or six vears. Will it not be confessed 
that, in 1783 and 1784, we had more money than we have 
dt present, and that the emission of your present paper ban- 
ished double the amount out of circulation ? Besides, if 
paper should become necessary, the general government still 
possess the power of emitting it, and Continental paper, 
well funded, must ever answer the purpose better than state 

How extremely useful and advantageous must this restraint 
be to those states which mean to be honest, and not to 
defraud their neighbors ! Henceforth, the citizens of the 
states may trade with each other without fear of tender-laws 
or laws impairing the nature of contracts. The citizen of 
South Carolina will then be able to trade with those of Rhode 
Island, North Carolina, and Georgia, and be sure of receiv- 
ing the value of his commodities. Can this be done at pres- 
ent ? It cannot ! However just the demand may be, yet 
still your honest, suffering citizen must be content to receive* 
their depreciated paper, or give up the debt 

336 DEBATES. [DoLLAu. 

But above all, how much will this section tend to restore 
your credit with foreigners — to rescue your national char- 
acter from that contempt which must ever follow the most 
flagrant violations of public faith and private honesty ! No 
more shall paper money, no more shall tender-laws, drive 
their commerce from our shores, and darken the American 
name in every country where it is known. No nnore shall 
our citizens conceal in their coffers those treasures which the 
weakness and dishonesty of our government have long hid- 
den from the public eye. The firmness of a just and even 
system shall bring them into circulation, and honor and virtue 
shall be again known and countenanced among us. No 
more shall the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, become 
the miserable victims of unjust rulers. Your government 
shall now, indeed, be a government of laws. The arm of 
.Justice shall be lifted on high ; and the poor and the rich^ 
the strong and the weak, shall be equally protected in their 
rights. Public as well as private confidence shall again be 
i.'Stablished ; industry shall return among us ; and the bless- 
mgs of our government shall verify that old, but useful maxim, 
that with states, as well as individuals, honesty is the best 

Speech of Mr. PATRICK DOLLARDJ of Prince Fred- 


Mr. President, 1 rise, with the greatest diffidence, to 
speak on this occasion, not only knowing myself unequal to 
the task, but believing this to be the most im|X)rtant ques- 
tion that ever the good people of this state were called 
together to deliberate upon. This Constitution has been 
ably supported, and ingeniously glossed over by many able 
and respectable gentlemen in this house, whose reasoning, 
aided by the most accurate eloquence, might strike conviction 
even in the predetermined breast, had they a good cause to 
sup|X)rt. Conscious that they have not, and also conscious of 
my inability to point out the consequences of its defects, which 
have in some measure been defined by able gentlemen in 
this house, I shill therefore confine myself within narrow 
bounds : that is, concisely to make known the sense and 
language of my constituents. The people of Prince Freder- 
ick's Parish, whom 1 have the honor to represent, are a brave* 


honest, and industrious people. In the late bloody contest, 
they bore a conspicuous part, when they fought, bled, and 
conquered, in defence of their civil rights and privileges, 
vyhich they expected to transmit untainted to their posterity. 
They are nearly all, to a man, opposed to this new Constitu- 
tion, because, they say, they have omitted to insert a bill of 
rights therein, ascertaining and fundamentally establishing, 
the unalienable rights of men, without a full, free, and secure 
enjoyment of which there can be no liberty, and over which 
It is not necessary that a good government should have the 
control. They say that they are by no means against vest- 
ing Congress with ample and sufficient powers ; but to make 
over to them, or any set of men, their birthright, comprised 
in Magna Charta, which this new Constitution absolutely 
does, they can never agree to. Notwithstanding this, they 
h ive the highest opinion of the virtues and abilities of the 
honorable gentlemen from this state, who represented us in 
the General Convention ; and also a few other distinguished 
eharacters, whose names will be transmitted with honor to 
future ages; but 1 believe, at the same time, they are but 
mortal, and, therefore, liable to err ; and as the virtue and 
abilities of those gentlemen will consequently recommend 
cheir being first employed in jointly conducting the reins of 
^his government, they are led to believe it will commence 
in a moderate aristocracy : but, that it will, in its future opera- 
tions, produce a monarchy, or a corrupt and oppressive aris- 
tocracy, they have no manner of doubt. Lust of dominion 
is natural in every soil, and the love of power and superiority 
is as prevailing in the United States, at present, as in any part 
of the earth ; yet in this country, depraved as it is, there still 
remains a strong regard for liberty: an American bosom is 
apt to glow at the sound of it, and the splendid merit of pre- 
serving that best gift of God, which is mostly expelled from 
every country in Europe, might stimulate Indolence, and 
animate even Luxury to consecrate herself at the altar of 

My constituents are highly alarmed at the large and rapid 
strides which this new government has taken towards des- 
potism. They say it is big with political mischiefs, and preg- 
nant with a greater variety of impending woes to the good 
people of the Southern States, especially South Carolina, 
than atl the plagues supposed to issue from the poisonous 
VOL. IV. 43 29 

338 DEBATES. [ScMPTsft. 

Ix)x of Pandora. They say it is particularly calculated for 
the meridian of despotic aristocracy ; that it evidently tends 
to promote the ambitions views of a few able and designing 
men, and enslave the rest ; that it carries with it the appear- 
ance of an old phrase, formerly made use of in despotic 
reigns, and especially by Archbishop Laud, in the reign of 
Charles I., that is, " non-resistance." They say they will 
resist against it; that they will not accept of it unless com- 
pelled by force of arms, which this new Constitution plainly 
threatens ; and then, they say, your standing array, like 
Turkish janizaries enforcing despotic laws, must ram it down 
their throats with the points of bayonets. They warn the 
gentlemen of this Convention, as the guardians of their lib- 
erty, to beware how they will be accessory to the disposal of, 
or rather sacrificing, their dear-Ixmght rights and privileges. 
This is the sense and language, Mr. President, of the people; 
and it is an old saying, and I believe a very true one, that 
the general voice of the people is the voice of God. The 
j^eneral voice of the people, to whom I am responsible, is 
against it. I shall never betray the trust respostnl in me by 
them ; therefore, shall give my hearty dissent. 

Wednesday, May 21, 1788. 

Gen. SUMPTER, agreeably to notice given yesterday^ 
(Tuesday, 20th,) moved for an adjournment of the Conven 
tion to the (20th October) twentieth day of October next^ 
in order to give time for the further consideration of the 
Federal Constitution. After considerable debate, it was 
rejected by a mnjority of (46) forty-six — yeas, eighty-nine, 
f89 ;) nays, one hundred and thirty-five (135). 

Friday, May 23, 1788. 

On motion, Resolved, That this Convention do assent to and ratify the 
Constitution agreed to on the 17th day of September last, by the ConveDtion 
of the United States of America, held at Philadelphia. 

On the question being put to ajrree to the same, the yeas and nays w<!rc 
called for by the unanimous voice of the Convention, and are as follows: — 

For the Parishes of St. Philip and St. Michafl, CHARLEsroit. — Yhu 
His excj^l'cncy, Govrmor 'I'homns Pinrknoy, did not vole. Lieutenant- Ooremor 
Thomas Gadsden, C. C. Pinrknoy, (ffenoral,»'Chrislophor Gadsden, (general — niein- 
ber of Congress of '6r>, at New York.) Edward Rulled^, (governor — one of theCon* 
gress of 7(1,) David llamsny, (Dr.,) Thomas Iloyward, Jun., (judge — and one of the 
Congress of 76,) Edward DarroU, Isaac Molt*', John Mathews, (governor.) Edward 
Blake, Thomas Bee, ( judae,) Daniol Do Soiissiiro, Thomas Jones, John F. Grimke 
'judge,) William Johnson, John J. Pringle, (attorney -general,) John Qlake, Dantel 


Steiens, Daniel Cannon, Anthony Toomer, Hu^h Rutledge, (judge,) John Budd, 

SDr.,) Francis Kinloch, Thomas Sotnmersal], Michael Kalteisen, (captain of Fort 
ohnson^ Richard Lushington, (colonel,) Nathaniel Russel, Josiah Smith, Lewis 
Arlorris, Edward Lightwood, John Edwards. 31 . 

Christ Chdrcu. — Yeas: Hon. Charles Pinckney, Hon. John Rutledge, Hon. A. 
Vanderhorst, William Read, Joseph Manigault, Jacob Read, Joshua Toomer. 7. 

St. Joiiif's, Berkley. — Yeas: Hon. Henrj' Laurens, Gen. William Moaitrie, 
llenrv Laurens, J un. 3. — Nays: Peter Fayssoux, Keating Simons, Thomas Wal- 
♦«r. 3 — Absent: Francis Marion. 1. 

St. AifDREw's. — Yeas: Glen Drayton, Hon. Richard Hutson, Thomas FuHer, 
James Ladson, Ralph Jzard, Jan., Charles Drayton, Hon. William Scott. 7. — Jfays: 

St. George's, Dorcmkster. — Yeas: John Glaze, Morton Waring, Thomas 
'Vrarring, Maj. J. Postell, William Postcll, Mathias Hutchinson, John Dawson. 7. — 
/\'avt5 : none. 

St. James's, Goose Creek. — Yeas: Hon. Ralph Izard, Peter Smith, Hon. Ben- 
'Uimin Smith, Gabriel Manigault, William Smith, J. Parker, Jun., J. Deas, Jun. 7. — 
Jtfays : none. 

St. Thomas and St. Dennis. — Yeas: Hon. John Huger, Thomas Karwon, 
Thomas Screven, Robert Daniel, Lewis Fogartie, Isaac Harlcston, Isaac Parker. — 
^aus: none. 

St. Paul's Parish. — Yeas: Paul Hamilton, George Haig, Joseph Slann, Roger 
I*arker Saunders, William Washington, (hero of Eutaw and Cowpens.) — Jfays 
John Wilson, Hon. Melcher Garner. 2. 

St. Bartholomew's. — Yeas: Hon. John Lloyd, John Crosskeys. — jXays : Ben- 
iarain Postell, William Clay Snipes, O'ttrien Smith, Paul Walter, Edmund Bel- 
linger. 5. 

St. Heleha's. — Yeas: Hon. John Barnwell, Hon. John Joyner, Hon. John Kean, 
Son. William H. Wigg, Hon. Robert Barnwell, Hon. William Elliott, Hon. James 
Stuart. 7. — Jiays : none. 

St. James's, Santee. — Yeas: Isaac Dubose, Lewis Miles, Samuel Warren, Richard 
Withers, John Mayrant, Thomas Horry. 6. — JVay; John Bowman. 1. 

Prince George's, Winyaw. — Yeas: Hon. Thomas Waties, (judge of C. C. p., 
«nd chancellor,) Samuel Smith. Cleland Kinloch, Hon. William Allston, Jun. 4. — 
Ji'aas : none. — JibsenI : Peter Horry. 1 . 

All Saints'. — Yeas: Daniel Morral, Thomas Allston. 2. — Jfays: none. 

Prince Frederick's. — Yeas : William Wilson, Alexander Tweed, Williartl Frier- 

•on, James Pettigrew 4. — Jfaijs : Patrick Dollard, William Read, J. Burges, Jun. 3. 

St. John's, Colleton County. — Yeas : Thomas Leffare, Richard Muncreef, Jun., 

Hon. Daniel Jenkinsf Hugh Wilson, Isaac Jenkins, Ephraim Mikel, William Smelie. 

- Jfays : none. 

St. Peter's. — Yens : John Fen wick, Joachin Hartstone, Seth Stafford, Rev. Henry 
riolcom. 4. — Jfays: John Chisholm, John Lewis Bourjin, Jun. 2. — Absent: Wil- 
liam Stafford. J. 

Prince William's. — Yeas: Thomas Hutson, John M'Pherson, James Maine, 
John A. Cuthbert, John Lightwood, John Simmons, Stephen Devaux. 7. — Jfays: 

St. Stephen's. — Ypms : John Palmer, Hon. Hezekiah Mahams, Samuel Dubose, 
John Peyre. 4. — Jfays: none. — AbseM : Thomas Cooper, Thomas Palmer. 1 

District Eastward of the Wateree. — Yea: John Chesnut. 1. — Jfays: 
Thomas Sumter, Andrew Baskins, John Lowry, Benjamin Cudworth, William Mas- 
•*y, Hugh White, Thomas Dunlap, Samuel Dunlap, John Montgomery. 9. — Absent: 
8. Boykin. 

District of Ninety-six. — Yea: Dr. John Harris. 1. — Jfays: James Lincoln, 
Adam Crain Jones, Edmond Martin, Andrew Hamilton, Joseph Calhoun, William 
Butler, John Bowie, Hon. John L. Gervais. 6. — Absent: John Ewing Calhoun, 
Charles Davenport. 2. 

North Side of Saluda. — Yeas: Samuel Earle, I^emuel J. Allstone, John Thomas, 
^un. 3. — Jfays: none. 

South Side of Saluda. — Yeas: John Miller, William M'Caleb. 2. — Jfays 
Bone. — Absent : Robert Anderson. 1. 

District of Saxe-Gotha. — Yea: Hon. Henry Pendleton. 1. — Jfays: Hon. Rich- 
ard Hampton, J. Culpeper, William Fitzpatrick,'Llewellen Threewits, John Three- 
rits, Wade Hampton. 6 

Lower Districts between Bro\d and Saluda Rivers. — Yeas: none. — .^ays . 
Hon. Edaoua Burke, J. Lindsay, Philemon Waters, Robert Ruthford, Hon. J. Uanip' 
OtL 5. 


LiTiLC hTVER District. — Yeas: John Hunter, Thomas Wadnworth. 2 -^Kayw 
Samuel Saxon, Joshua Saxon. 2. — Msent : James Mayson. 1. 

Uppkr or Spartan District. — Yeas: none. — Jiays : William Kennedy, James 
Jourdon, Charles Sims, Thomas Brandon, Hon. Zacariah Bullock. 5. 

District between Broad and Catawba Rivers, Richland Countt. — Yeas: 
none. — J^ays : Hon. Thomas Taylor, William Meyer, Thomas Howell. 3. 

Fairfield County. — Nays: James Craig, Jacob Brown, John Gray, John 
Cook. 4. 

Chester District. — Yeas: none. — Xays : Edward Lacy, Joseph Brown, William 
Miles, James Knox. 4. 

District called the New Acquisition. — Yea: Rev. Francis Cummins. 1. — 
Jfays : Hon. William Hill, Robert Patton, Samuel Watson, James Martin, James 
G. Hunt, Samuel Lowry, Andrew Love, John M'Caw, Adam Meek, Abraham 
Smith. 10. 

St. Matthew's. — Yeas : Hon. "William Thompson, Hon. Paul Warley. 2. — JVoy • 
Hon. John Linton. 1. 

Orange. — Yras : Lewis Lesterjette, J&cob Rumph, Donald Bruce. 3. — J^ays. 
none. — Absent: Lewis Golsan. 1. 

St. David's. — Yeas: Lemuel Benton, William Dewitt, Calvin Spencer, Samuel 
Taylor, R. Brownfield, Benjamin Hicks, Jun. 6. — Nays: none. — Absent: Trist. 
Thomas. 1 . 

District between Savannah River, and the North Fork of Edisto. — Yeas. 
Stephen Smith, Hon. William Dunbar, Joseph Vince, William Robison, John Col« 
lins, Jonathan Clark. 6. — Xays : none. — Absent: William Buford. 1. 

Kea#, - - 149. | Xays, - - 73. | MajorUy, - - 76. | AbseiU, - 15 

So it was r( solved in the affirmative. 

JOHN S. DART, Secretary of Convention 

Yeaa. Nays. Absanl 

St. Philip and St. Michael, 31 

Christ Church, 7 

St John's, Berkley County, 3 3 1 

St. Andrew's, 7 

St. George's, Dorchester, 7 

St. James's, Goose Creek, 7 

St. Thomas and St. Dennis, 7 

St. Paul's Parish, 5 2 

St Bartholomew's, ^. 2 5 

St. Helena's, 7 

St. James's, Santee, 6 10 

Prince George's, Winyaw, 4 I 

AllSainU', 2 

Prince Frederick's, 4 3 

St. John's, Colleton County, 7 

St. Peter's, 4 2 1 

Prince Williams, 7 

St. Stephen's, 4 3 

District Eastward of the Wateree, 1 9 1 

District of Ninety-six, 1 8 2 

North side of the Saluda, 3 

South side of the Saluda, 2 1 

District of Saxe-Gotha, 1 6 

Lower District, between Broad and Saluda Rivers, 5 

Little River District, 2 2 1 

Upper, or Spartan District, 5 

Jistrict between Broad and Catawba Rivers, Richland County, 3 

Fairfield County, 4 

Chester County, 4 

District called the New Acquisition, 1 10 

St. Matthew's, 2 1 

Orange, 3 1 

St. David's, 6 1 

District between Savannah River and the North Fork of Edisto, 6 1 

149 "^ 14 


Two hundred and thirty-six members appointed to the Convention 

Fourteen absent. 

Two hundred and twenty- two attended, of which there were, 

In favor of adoption^ 140 

Against adoption, 73 

Majority, 67 

OVUM REIPUBLICiE. — The Congress of 1765. 

[From Garden's Anecdotes, Second Series.] 

South Carolina is literally one of the Nine primitive Muses of American 
Liberty. ** Before the thirteen were — she is" We must never forget 
that the parent of the revolution, the very Ovum Reipublica, was the Con- 
gress which convened in New York, in 1765. But nine colonies were 
represented, as four were overpowered by the royal party. But South 
Carolina beat down the strong opposition of the crown, and was the only 
one, south of the Potomac, that sent a delegation. This was the achieve- 
ment of General Gadsden. In this primeval council, our members were 
far from being insignificant. Three committees only were appointed, and 
of two the sons of Carolina were chairmen. Mr. Lynch (father of the 
patriot who signed the Declaration of Independence) was chairman of the 
one to prepare an address to the House of Commons, and John Rutledge 
(who was then but twenty-six years of age) of that for the house of lords. 
This Convention of sages was the parent plant of our present confederacy 
of republics. Thus was South Carolina among the aboriginal founders of 
the Union. 

Delegates to the Congress of 1765. 

MtusachusettSj 3 — James Otis, Oliver Partridge, Timothy Ruggles. 
Rhatle hland, 2 — Mctcalf Bowler, Henry Ward. 

Connecticut^ 3 — Eliphalet Dyer, David Rowland, William S. Johnston. 
New Yorkf 5 — Robert R. Livingston, John Cniger, .Philip Livingston, Willtanc 
Bayard, Leonard Lispenard. 
Aeio Jersey y 3 — Robert Ogden, Hendrick Fisher, Joseph Borden. 
Pennsylvania^ 3 — John Dickinson, John Morton, George Bryan. 
Delawarey 3 — Jacob Kolloch, Thomas M'Kean, Ciesar Rodney. 
Maryland^ 3 — William Murdock, Edward Tilghman, Thomas Ringgold. 
Souik CaroLinAy^ — Thomas Lynch, Christopher Gadsden, John Rutledge. 

Nine colonies, and twenty-eight delegates. 

Hztract from the official Journal of the Congress of 1765. 

Met in New York, on Monday, 7th of October, 1765. After having 
examined and admitted the certificates of appointment of the above mem- 
bers, the said committees proceeded to choose a chairman by ballot; and 
Timothy Ruorgries, Esq., of Massachusetts, on sorting and counting the 
votes, appeared to have a majority, and thereupon was placed in the chair. 

Resolved, nem. con., That John Cotton be clerk to this Congress, during 
the continuance thereof. 

Resofvrdf That the committee of each colony shall have one voice only, 
10 determining any questions that shall arise in the Congress. 


After meeting regularly every day, with the exception of the Sabbath, 
they concurred in a declaration of the rights and grievances of America, 
and appointed the following committees, on Saturday, 19th October, 
1765: — 

Upon motion. Voted, That Robert R. Livingston, of New York, William Samuel 
Johnston, and William Murdock, Esqrs., be a committpe to prepare an address to his 
majesty, and lay the same before the Congress on Monday next. 

yoled oLsOy Thui John Rutledge, of South Carolina, £dward Til^hman, and Philip 
Livingston, Esars., be a comniillee to prepare a memorial and petition to the Lords in 
Parliament, ana lay tlie same before the Congn^ss on Monday next. 

Voted also. That Thomas Lynch, of South Carolina, James Otis, and lliomas 
M'Kean, Esqrs., be a committee to prepare a petition to the House of Commons of 
Great Britain, and lay the same before the Congress on Monday next. AAer having 
attended daily, the last meeting was held on Thursday, 24th October, 1765. 

Votedy urumimous'y^ That th« clerk of this Congress sign the minutes of their pro- 
ceedings, and deliver a copy for the use of each colony and province. — See ^ Prin- 
ciples and Acts of the Revolution." 

It is to be regretted that the few speeches here published constitute all 
of the able debates in the South Carolina Convention which could be 
procured. The discussion commenced on the 14th of May, and, it is 
understood, was continued with brilliancy eight days; Judge Burke, Mr. 
Bowman, Dr. Fayssoux, and others, disclosing the abuses and miscon- 
structions of which the Constitution was susceptible; Judge Pendleton, 
General Pinckney, and Hon. J. Pr ingle, among many 6ther distinguished 
members, enforcing the expediency and necessity of its adoption. 

" This acceptance and ratification was not without opposition. In 
addition to the common objections which had been urged against the 
Constitution, South Carolina had some local reasons for refusing, or at 
least delaying, a final vote on the question. Doubts were entertained of 
the acceptance of the Constitution by Virginia. To gain time till the 
determination of that leading state was known, a motion for postponement 
was brought forward. This, aAer an animated debate, was overruled by 
a majority of 46. The rejection of it was considered as decisive in favor 
of the Constitution. When the result of the vote was announced, an 
event unexampled in the annals of Carolina took place. Strong and 
mvoluntary expressions of applause and joy burst forth fi'om the numerous 
transported spectators. The minority complained of disrespect ; unpleasant 
consequences were anticipated. The majority joined with the complain- 
ing members in clearing the house, and in the most deucate manner 
soothed their feelings. In the true style of republicanism, the minority 
not only acquiesced, but heartily joined in supporting the determination 
of the majority. The Constitution went into operation with general con* 
sent, and has ever since been strictly observed." — Ramsay's History of 
South Carolina, vol. ii. p. 432. 




1789 TO 1836, 



Oath. — On a Bill prescribing the Oaih to supptn-t the Cansii' 


May 6, 1789 
Mr. GERRY said, he did not discover what part of the Constitution 
gave to Congress the power of making this provision, (for regulating the 
time and manner of administering; certain oaths,) except so much of it 
as respects the form of the oath ; it is not expressly given by any clause 
of the Constitution, and, if it does not exist, must arise from the sweeping 
clause, as it is frequently termed, in the 8th section of the Jst article (^ 
the Constitution, which authorizes Congress ** to make all laws which 
shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing 
powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the govern- 
ment of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof." To 
this clause there seems to be no limitation, so far as it applies to the ex- 
tension of the powers vested by the Constitution ; but even this clause 
gives no legislative authority to Congress to carry into effect any power 
not expressly vested by the Constitution. In the Constitution, which i& 
the supreme law of the land, provision is made that the members of the 
legislatures of the several states, and all executive and judicial officers 
thereof, shall be bound by oath to support the Constitution. But there is 
no provision for empowering the government of the United States, or any 
officer or department thereof, to piss a law obligatory on the members of 
the legisluures of the several states, and other officers thereof, to take this 
oath. This is made their duty already by the Constitution, and no such 
law of Congress can add force to the obligation ; but, on the other hand, 
if it is admitted that such a law is necessary, it tends to weaken the Con- 
ititution, which requires such aid : neither is any law, other than to pre- 
scribe the form (Tf the oath, necessary or proper to carry this part of the 
Constitution into effect ; for the oath required by the Constitution, being 
• necessary qualification for the state officers mentioned, cannot be dis- 
l^sed with by any authority whatever, other than the people, and the 
^ jodicial power of the United States, extending to all cases arising in law 

344 Oath. — Sherman. [May 6 

or equilj under this Constitution. The judges of the United States, who 
are bound to support the Constitution, may, in all cases within their juris- 
diction, annul the official acts of state officers, and even the acts of the 
members of the state legi>latures, if such members and officers were dis- 
qualified to do or pass such acts, by neglecting or refusing to take this 

Mr. BLAND had no doubt respecting the powers of Congress on this 
subject The evident meaning of the words of the Constitution implied 
that Con stress should have the power to pass a law directing the time and 
manner of taking the oath prescribed for supporting the Constitution. 
There can be no hesitation respecting the power to direct their own offi- 
cers, and the constituent parts of Congress : besides, if the state legi^la- 
tures were to be left to direct and arrange this business, they would pass 
different laws, and the officers might be bound in different degrees to sup- 
port the Constitution. He not only thought Congress had the power to 
do what was proposed by the Senate, but he judged it expedient also. 

Mr. JACKSON. The states had belter be left to resrulate this matter 
among themselves ; for an oath that is not voluntary is seldom held sacred. 
Compelling people to swear to support the Constitution will be like the 
attempts of Britain, during the late revolution, to secure the fidelity of 
those who fell within the influence of her arms; and like those attempts 
they will be frustrated. The moment the party could get from under her 
wings, the oath of allegiance was disregarded. If the state officers will 
not willingly pay this testimony of their attachment to the Constitution, 
what is extorted from them against their inclination is not much to be re- 
lied on. 

Mr. LAWRENCE. Only a few words will be necessary to convince us 
that Congress have this power. It is declared by the Constitution, that its 
ordinances shall be the supreme law of the land. If the Constitution isy 
the supreme law of the land, every part of it must partake of this- suprem- 
acy ; consequently, every general declaration it contains is the supreme 
law. But then these general declarations cannot be carried into effect 
without particular regulations adapted to the circumstances : these par- 
ticular regulations are to be made by Congress, who, by the Constitu- 
tion, have power to make all laws necessary or proper to carry the 
declarations of the Constitution into effect. The Constitution likewise 
declares that the members of the state legislatures, and all officers, execu- 
tive and judicial, shall take an oath to support the C/onstitution. This 
declaration is general, and it lies with the supreme legislature to detail 
and regulate it. 

Mr. SHERMAN. It appears necessary to point out the oath itself, as 
well as the time and manner of taking it. No other legislature is compe- 
tent to all these purposes ; but if they were, there is a propriety in the 
supreme legislature's doing it. At the same time, if the state legislatures 
take it up, it cannot operate disagreeably upon them, to find all their 
neighboring states obliged to join them in supporting a measure they ap- 
prove. What a Ktate legislature may do, will be good as far as it goes. 
On the same principle, the Constitution will apply to each individual of 
the state officers : they may go, without the direction of the state legisla- 
ture, to a justice, and take the oath voluntarily. 

This, I suppose, would be binding upon them ; but this is not satisfac- 
tory; the government ought to know that the oath has been properly 
taken; and this can only be done by a general regulation. If it is in thr^ 

l"??^.] Duties, — Cakaoll. 345 

discretion of the state legislatures to make laws to carry the declaration 
of the Constitation into execution, they have the power of refusing, and 
■nay avoid the positive injunctions of the Constitution. As the power of 
Congress, in this particular, extends over the whole Union, it is most 
proper for us to take the subject up, and make the proper provision for 
carrying it into execution, to the intention of the Constitution. 

Duties, — Bill laying Duties on Goods, !fc. 

House or Represkntativks, J/ay 15. 

Mr. WHITE. The Constitution, having authorized the House of 
Representatives alone to originate money bills, places an important trust 
in our hands, which, as their protectors, we ought not to part with. I do 
not mean to imply that the Senate are less to be trusted than this house; 
but the Constitution, no doubt for wise purposes, has given the immedi- 
ate representatives of the people a control over the whole government in 
this particular, which, for their interest, they ought not to let out of their 

Mr. MADISON. The Constitution places the power in the House of* 
originating money bills. The principal reason why the Constitution had 
made this distinction was, because they were chosen by the people, and 
supposed to be the best acquainted with their interest and ability. In 
order to make them more particularly acquainted with these objects, the 
democratic branch of the legislature consisted of a greater number, and 
were chosen for a shorter period ; that so they might revert more fre- 
quently to the mass of the people. 

Mr. MADISON " moved to lay an impost of eight cents on all beer 
imported. He did not think this would be a monopoly, but he hoped it 
would be such an encouragement as to induce the manufacture to take 
deep root in every state in the Union." — Lloyds Debates of Congress^ 
vol. i. p. 65. 

The same. ** The states that are most advanced in population, and 
ripe for manufactures, ought to have their particular interests attended to 
ia some degree. While these states retained the power of making regu- 
Utions of trade, they had the power to protect and cherish such institu- 
tions. By adopting the present Constitution, they have thrown the exer- 
cise of this power into other hands. They must have done this with an 
expectation that those interests would not be neglected here." — Idem, 

The same. "There may be some manufactures which, being once 
ibrmed, can advance towards perfection without any adventitious aid ; 
while others, for want of the fostering hand of government, will be un- 
able to go on at all. Legislative attention will therefore be necessary to 
Collect the proper objects for this purpose." — Idem, p. 26. 

Mr. CLYMER '* did not object to this mode of encouraging manutac- 
tares, and obtaining revenues, by combining the two objects in one bill. 
He was satisfied that a political necessity existed for both the one and 
the other." — Idem, p. 31. 

Mr. CLYMER " hoped gentlemen would be disposed to extend a de- 
gree uf patronage to a manufacture [steel] which a moment's reflection 
would cor vince them was highly deserving protection." — Idem, p. 69. 

Mr. CARROLL '* moved to insert window and other glass. A manu> 
&cture of this article was begun in Maryland, and attended with sonsid 

voi^ y. 44 

346 Duties, — BouDiNOT. L-^^ ^^ 

erahle success. If the legislature was to grant a small encouragement, 
it would be permanently established." — Iflenif p. 94. 

Mr. WADSWORTH. <* By moderating the duties, we shall obtain 
revenue, and give that encouragement to manufactures which is in- 
tended." — Idem, p. 128. 

Mr. AMES ** thought this a useful and accommodating manufacture* 
[nails J which yielded a clear gain of all it sold for ; but the cost of the 
material, the labor employed in it, would be thrown away probably in 
many instances. * * * He hoped the article would remain in the bill." 
— Idem, p. 81. 

The same. ** The committee were already informed of the flourishing 
situation of the manufacture, [nails,] but they ought not to join the gen- 
tleman from South Carolina, Mr. Tucker, in concluding that it did not. 
therefore, deserve legislative protection. He had no doubt but the com- 
mittee would concur in laying a small protecting duty in favor of this 
manufacture." — Idem, p. ^. 

Mr. FITZSIMONS ** was willing to allow a small duty, because it 
conformed to the policy of the states who thought it proper in this mao- 
tier to protect their manufactures." — Idem, p. 83. 

The same. " It being my opinion that an enumeration of articles will 
tend to clear away difficulties, I wish as many to be selected as possible. 
For this reason I have prepared myself with an additional number : 
among these are some calculated to encourage the productions of oar 
country, and protect our infant manufactures." — Idem, p. 17. 

Mr. HARTLEY. ** If we consult the history of the ancient world, 
Europe, we shall see that they have thought proper, for a long time past, 
to give great encouragement to establish manufactures, by laying such 
partial duties on the importation of foreign goods, as to give the home 
manufactures a considerable advantage in the price when brought to 
market. * * * I think it both politic and just that the fostering hand of 
the general government should e.xtend to all those manufactures which 
will tend to national utility. Our stock of materials is, in many instances, 
equal to the greatest demand, and our artisans sufficient to work them up, 
even for exportation. In those cases, I take it to be the policy of every 
enlightened nation to give their manufacturers that degree of encourage- 
ment necessary to perfect them, without oppressing tho other parts of the 
community ; and, under this encouragement, the industry of the manu- 
facturer will be employed to add to the wealth of the nation." — Idem, 
p. 22. 

Mr. WHITE. ** In order to charge specified articles of manufacture so 
as to encourage our domestic ones, it will be necessary to examine the 
present state of each throughout the Union." — Idem, p. 19. 

Mr. BLAND (of Virginia) '* thought that very little revenue was likely 
to be collected from the importation of this article, [beef;] and, as it was 
to be had in sufficient quantities within the United States, perhaps a tax 
amountinsT to a prohibition would be proper." — Idem, p. 66. 

Mr. BLAND " informed the committee that there were mines opened in 
Virginia capable of supplying the whole of the United States; and, if some 
restraint was laid on importation of foreign coals, those mines might be 
worked to advantage." — Idem, p. 97, 

Mr. BOUDINOT. " I shall certainly move for it, [the article of glass,] 
a»I suppose we are capable of manufacturing this as well as many of the 
others In fad, it is well known that we have and can do it bb well v 

1789.] Duties, S47 

most nations, the materials being almost all producta in our country/'—* 
Idem, p. 2S. 

The same. *' Let us take, then, the resolution of Congress in i7d3t 
and make it the basis of our system, adding only such protecting duties at 
are necessary to support the manufactures established by the legislatures 
of the manufacturing states." — Idem, p. 34. 

Mr. SINNICKSON ** declared himself a friend to this manufacture, 
[beer,] and thought that, if the duty was laid high enough to etfect a 
prohibition, the manufacture would increase, and of consequence the price 
would be lessened." — Idem, p. 65. 

Mr. LAWRENCE ** thought that if candles were an object of con- 
siderable importation, they ought to be taxed for the sake of obtaining 
revenue, and if they were not imported in considerable quantities, the 
burden upon the consumer would be small, while it tended to cherish a 
valuable manufacture." — Idem, p. 63. 

Mr. FITZSLMONS " moved to lay a duty of two cents per pound on 
tallow candies. The manufacture of candles is an important manufac- 
ture, and far advanced towards perfection. I have no doubt but in a few 
years we shall be able to supply the consumption of every part of the 
continent." — Idem, p. 67. 

The sane. '* Suppose 5s. cwt. were imposed, [on un wrought steel :] 
it might be, as stated, a partial duty; but would not the evil be soon 
overbalanced by the establishment of such an important manufacture ?" — - 
Idem, p. 69. 

The same. ** The necessity of continuing those encouragements which 
the state legislatures have deemed proper, exists in a considerable degree. 
Therefore it will be politic in the government of the United States to 
continue such duties until their object is accomplished." — Idem, p. 67. 

Mr. SMITH (of South Carolina.) " The people of South Carolina are 
willing to make sacriiices to encourage the manufacturing and maritime 
interests of their sister states " — Idem, p. 212. 

Gen. Washington's Speech to Congress^ of January 11, 1790, declares, 
'*That the safety and interest of a free people require that Congress 
should promote such manufactures as tend to render them independent of 
others for essential, particularly military supplies. 

" The advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, by 
all proper means, will not, I trust, need recommendation." 

Extract from the reply of the Senate, to the speech of Gen. Wash" 
ington, January, 1790. — "Agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, 
forming the basis of the wealth and strength of our confederated republic, 
must be the frequent subject of our deliberations, and shall be advanced 
by all the proper means in our power." 

Extract from the reply of the House of Representatives. — ** We con- 
cur with you in the sentiment that * agriculture, commerce, and manu- 
lactures, are entitled to legislative protection.' " 

His speech of December, 1796, holds out the same doctrine. — ** Con- 
gress have repeatedly, and not without success, directed their attention 
to the encouragement of manufactures. The ooject is of too much im- 
portance not to insure a continuance of these efforts in every way whicn 
aball appear eligible.'* 

Extract from the reply of the Senate to the speech of Gen. Washing' 
Urn, December, 1796. — *' The necessity of accelerating the establishment 
of certaia useful Sranches of manufactures^ by the interventiou of legis- 

348 Duties. iJfoy lo 

lative aid and protectioi ^ and the encouragement due to agriculture by 
the creation of boards, (composed of intelligent individuals,) to patronize 
the primary pursuit of society, are subjects which will readily engage our 
most serious attention.'' 

Afr, Jefferson, in his Message of 1902, states that — "To cultivate 
peace, maintain commerce and navigation, to foster our fisheries, and pro- 
tect manufactures adapted to our circumstances, &c., are the landmarks 
by which to guide ourselves in all our relations." 

From Mr, Jefferson's Message of 1808. — ** The situation into which 
we have been thus forced has impelled us to apply a portion of our in- 
dustry and capital to internal manufacturing improvements The extent 
of this conversion is daily increasing, and little doubt remains that the 
establishments formed and forming will, under the auspices of cheaper 
materials and subsistence, the freedom of labor from taxation with us, anH 
protecting duties and prohibitions, become permanent." 

Extract from the Message of Mr. Madison, December 5, 1815. — ** Un- 
der circumstances giving powerful impulse to manufacturing industry, it 
has made among us a progress, and exhibited an efficiency, which justify 
the belief that, with a protection not more than is due to the enterprising 
citizens whose interests are now at stake, it will become, at an early day, 
not only safe against occasional competitions from abroad, but a source of 
domestic wealth, and even of external commerce. • # • • 
In selecting the branches more especially entitled to public patronage, a 
preference is obviously claimed by such as will relieve the United States 
from a dependence on foreign supplies, ever subject to casual failures, for 
articles necessary for public defence, or connected with the primary wants 
of individuals. It will be an additional recommendation of particular 
manufactures, where the materials for them are extensively drawn from 
our agriculture, and consequently impart and insure to that great fund of 
national prosperity and independence an encouragement which cannot fail 
to be rewarded." 

Prom the Message of President Monroe , December , 1818. — "It is 
deemed of importance to encourage our domestic manufactures. In what 
manner the evils which we have adverted to may be remedied, and how it 
may be practicable in other respects to afford them further encouragement, 
paying due regard to the other great interests of the nation, is submitted 
to the wisdom of Congress." 

FVom the same, December 3, 1822. — ** Satisfied I am, whatever may be 
the abstract doctrine in favor of unrestricted commerce, provided all na- 
tions would concur in it, and it was not liable to be interrupted by war, 
which has never occurred, and cannot be expected, that there are strong 
reasons applicable to our situation, and relations with other countries, 
which impose on us the obligation to cherish and sustain our manufac- 

Prom the same, December, 1823. — ** Having communicated my views 
to Congress, at the commencement of the last session, respecting the en- 
couragement which ought to be given to our manufactures, and the prin- 
ciple on which it should be founded, I have only to add that those views 
remain unchanged, and that the present state of those countries with 
which we have the most immediate political relations, and greatest com- 
mercial intercourse, tends to confirm them. Under this impression, I re»> 
ommend a review of the tariff, for the purpose of affording such additional 
protection to those articles which we are prepared to manufacture, u 

/789.] Duties. 5ib 

^hich are more immediately connected with the defence and independence 
of the country." 

IVm. H, Crawford^ Secretary of the Treasury ^ %n his report, December, 
1819, says, — "It is believed that the present is a favorable moment foi 
affording efficient protection to that increasing and important interest, if it 
can be done consistently with the general interest of the nation." 

Extract from the Message of President Jefferson, December 2, 1806.* — 
'* The qnestion now comes forward, To what objects shall surpluses be 
appropriated, and the whole surplus of impost, after the entire discharge 
of the public debt, and during those intervals when the purposes of war 
shall not call for them ? Shall we suppress the impost, and give that ad- 
vantage to foreign over domestic manufactures? On a few articles of a 
more general and necessary use, the suppression, in due season, will doubt- 
less be right; but the great mass of the articles on which impost is paid 
are foreign luxuries, purchased only by those who are rich enough to afford 
themselves the use of them. Their patriotism would certainly prefer its 
continuance, and application to the great purposes of public education, 
roads, rivers, canals, and such other objects of public improvement as it 
may be thought proper to add to the constitutional enumeration of federal 
powers. By these operations, new channels of communication will be 
opened between the states; the lines of separation will disappear; their 
interests will be identified, and the union cemented by new and indissolu- 
ble ties. Education is here placed among the articles of public care. Not 
that it would be proposed to take its ordinary branches out of the hands 
t)f private enterprise, which manages so much better all the concerns to 
which it is equal ; but a public institution alone can supply those sciences 
which, though rarely called for, are yet necessary to complete the circle, 
all the parts of which contribute to the improvement of the country, and 
aome of them to its preservation. The subject is now proposed for the 
consideration of Congress, because, if approved, by the time the state legis- 
latures shall have deliberated on this extension of the federal trusts, and 
the laws shall be passed, and other arrangements made for their execution, 
the necessary funds will be on hand and without employment. I suppose 
an amendment to the Constitution, by consent of the states, necessary, be- 
cause the objects now recommended are not among those enumerated in 
the Constitution, and to which it permits the public money to be ap- 
plied." • • • 

From the same, Nov. 8, 1808. — " The probable accumulation of sur- 
pluses of revenue beyond what can be applied to the payment of the 
public debt, whenever the freedom and safety of our commerce shall be 
restored, merits the consideration of Congress. Shall it lie unproductive 
in the public vaults ? Shall the revenue be reduced ? Or shall it not 
rather be appropriated to the improvements of roads, canals, rivers, edu- 
cation, and other great foundations of prosperity and «union, under the 
powers which Congress may already possess, or such amendment of the 
Constitution as may be approved by the states ? While uncertain of the 
course of things, the time may be advantageously employed in obtaining 
the powers necessary for a system of improvement, should that be thought 
best." • • • 


*i60 Prestdenfs Power of Removal. — Smith. [June 16, 

Removal by the President. — On the Bill for establishing an 
executive Department^ to be denominated the Department of 
Forei,:^n Affairs, 

House or Represkntatives, June 16, 1789. 

The first clause, after recapitulating the title of the officer and his du- 
ties, had these words: ** to be removable from office by the President of 
the United States." 

Mr. WHITE. The Constitution gives the President the power of 
nominating, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, ap- 
pointing to office. As I conceive the power of appointing and dismissing 
to be united in their natures, and a principle that never was called in 
question in any government, I am adverse to that part of the clause which 
subjects the secretary of foreign affairs to be removed at the will of the 
President. In the Constitution, special provision is made for the removal 
of the judges : that I acknowledge to be a deviation from my principle ; 
but as it is a constitutional provision, it is to be admitted. In all cases 
not otherwise provided for in this Constitution, I take it that the princi- 
ple I have laid down is the governing one. Now, the Constitution has 
associated the Senate with the President in appointing the heads of de- 
partment; for the words of the law declare that there shall be a depart- 
ment established, at the head of which shall be an officer to be so de- 
nominated. If, then, the Senate is associated with the President in the 
appointment, they ought also to be associated in the dismission from office. 
Upon the justness of this construction, I take the liberty of reviving the 
moticm made in the committee of the whole for striking out these words, 
" to be removable from office by the President of the United States." 

Mr. SMITH, (of South Carolina.) The gentleman has anticipated me 
in his motion. I am clearly in sentiment with him that the words ought 
to go out. It is in the recollection of the committee, that, when the sub- 
ject was last before us, this power was excepted to; and although the 
words were then allowed to stand, it was generally understood that it' 
should be further debated. I then was opposed to giving this power to 
the President, and am still of opinion that we ought not to make this 
declaration, even if he has the power by the Constitution. 

I would premise, that one of these two ideas is just — either that the 
Constitution has given the President the power of removal, and there- 
fore it is nugatory to make the declaration here, or it has not given the 
power to him, and therefore it is improper to make an attempt to confer 
it upon him. If it be not given to him by the Constitution, but belongs 
conjointly to the President and Senate, we have no right to deprive 
the Senate of their constitutional prerogative; and it has been the opinion 
of sensible men that the power was lodged in this manner. A publica- 
tion of no inconsiderable eminence, in the class of political writings on 
the Constitution, has advanced this sentiment. The author, or authors, 
(for I have understood it to be the production of two cjentlemen of great 
information,) of the work published under the signature of Publius, ha* 
these words : — 

" It has boon mpntionod as one of the advantages to be expected from the coop 
eration of the Senate in the business of appointments, thai it would contribute to tht 
stability of the administration. The consent of that body would be necessary to dis 
place as well as appoint. A change of the chief maprisirate, then»fore, would not oc- 
casion so violent or so general a revolution in the offices of the government as might 

1 789.] President's Pawtr of Removal. — Smith. 35 1 

be expected if he were the sole disposer ef afficea. Where a ma^ in anv itattoB, 
has gi Ten satisfactory eyidenoe of his fitness for it, a new President would be re* 
strained from attempting a change, in favor of a person more agreeable to him, bj 
ihe apprehension that the discountenance of the Senate might frustrate the attempt, 
and bring some degree of discredit upon himself. Those who can best estimate the 
i'slue of a steady administration will be most disposed to prize a provision whicL 
connects the official existence of public men with the approbation or disapprobation 
of that body which, from the greater permanency of its own composition, will, in all 
probability, be less subject to inconstancy than any other member of the govern- 

Here this author lays it down, that there can he no doubt of the power 
of the Senate in the business of removal. Let this be as it may, I am 
clear that the President alone has not the power. Examine the Constitu- 
tion ; the powers of the several branches of government are there defined ; 
the President hris particular powers assigned him ; the judicial have, in like 
manner, powers assigned them ; but you will find no such power as remov- 
ing from office given to the President. I call upon gentlemen to show me 
where it is said that the President shall remove from office. I know they 
cinnot do it. Now I infer from this, as the Constitution has not given the 
President the power of removability, it meant that he should not have that 
power, and this inference is supported by that clause in the Constitution, 
which provides that all civil officers of the United States shall be removed 
from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or 
other hiah crimes and misdemeanors. Here is a particular mode pre- 
scribed for removing, and if there is no other mode directed, I contend 
that the Constitution contemplated only this mode. But let me ask gen- 
tlemen if any other mode is necessary. For what other cause should a 
man be removed from office ? Do gentlemen contend that sickness or 
ignorance would be a sufficient cause ? 1 believe, if they will reflect, they 
cannot instance any person who was removed from ignorance. I venture 
to say, there never was an instance of this nature in the United States. 
There have been instances where a person has been removed for offences : 
the same may again occur, and are therefore judiciously provided for in 
the Constitution. But in this case, is he removed from his ignorance, or 
his error, which is the consequence of his ignorance ? I suppose it is for 
Ills error, because the public are injured by it, and not for incapacity. 
The President is to nominate the officer, and the Senate to approve : here 
is provision made against the appointment of ignorant officers. They 
cannot be removed for causes which subsisted* before their coming into 
office. Their ignorance therefore must arise after they are appointed ; but 
this is an unlikely case, and one that cannot be contemplated as probable. 

I imagine, sir, we are declaring a power in the President which may 
hereafter be greatly abused, for we are not always to expect a chief magis- 
trate in whom such entire confidence can be placed as in the present. 
Perhaps gentlemen are so much dazzled with the splendor of the virtues 
of the present President, as not to be able to see into futurity. The 
framers of the Constitution did not confine their views to the first person 
who was looked up to, to fill the presidential chair. If they had, they might 
hive omitted those checks and guards with which the powers of the execu- 
tive are surrounded. They knew, from the course of human events, that 
Ihey could not expect to be so highly favored of Heaven, as to have the bless- 
ing of his administration more than seven or fourteen years; after which, 
tney >?upposed a man might get into power, who, it was possible, might 
misl>ehave. We ought to follow their example, and contemplate this 
power in the hands of an ambitious man, who might apply it to dangerouf 

352 President's Power of Removal — Smith. [June 16t 

|turposes. If we give this power to the President, he may, from caprice, 
remove the most worthy men from office : his will and pleasure will be the 
slight tenure by which an office is to be held ; and of consequence, you ren- 
der the officer the mere state dependant, the abject slave, of a persjon who 
may be disposed to abuse the confidence his fellow-citizens have placed in 

Another danger may resulL If you desire an officer to be a man of 
capacity and integrity, you may be disappointed. A gentleman possessed 
of these qualities, knowing he may be removed at the pleasure of the 
President, will be loath to risk his reputation on such insecure ground. As 
the matter stands in the Constitution, he knows, if he is suspected of doing 
any thing wrong, he shall have a fair trial, and the whole of his transac- 
tions developed by an impartial tribunal : he will have confidence in him- 
self when he knows he can only be removed for improper behavior. But 
if he is subjected to the whim of any man, it may deter him from entering 
into the service of his country ; because, if he is not subservient to that per- 
son's pleasure, he may be turned out, and the public may be led to sup- 
pose for improper behavior. This impression cannot be removed, as a 
public inquiry cannot be obtained. Beside this, it ought to be considered, 
that the person who is appointed will probably quit some other office or 
business in which he is occupied. Ought he, afler making this sacrifice 
in order to serve the public, to be turned out of place without even a rea* 
son being assigned for such behavior ? Perhaps the President does not do 
this with an ill intention : he may have been misinformed, for it is pre- 
sumable that a President may have round him men envious of the honors 
Of emoluments of persons in office, who will insinuate suspicions into his 
honest breast, that may produce a removal ; be this as it may, the event is 
still the same to the removed officer. The public suppose him guilty of 
malpractices — hence his reputation is blasted, his property sacrificed. I 
say his property is sacrificed, because I consider his office as his property : 
he is stripped of this, and left exposed to the malevolence of the world, con- 
trary to the principles of the Constitution, and contrary to the principles 
of all free government*!, which are, that no man shall be despoiled of his 
property but by a fair and impartial trial. 

I have stated that, if the power is given by the Constitution, the declara- 
tion in the law is nugatory ; and I will add, if it is not given, it will be 
nugatory also to attempt to vest the power. If the Senate participate, on 
any principle whatever, in the removal, they will never consent to transfer 
their power to another branch of the government ; therefore they will not 
pass a law with such a declaration in it. 

Upon this consideration alone, if there wps no other, the words should 
be struck out, and the question of right, if it is one, left to the decision 
of the judiciary. It will be time enough to determine the question when 
the President shall remove an officer in this way. I conceive it can prop- 
erly be brought before that tribunal ; the officer will have a right to a mem' 
damns to be restored to his office ; and the judges would determine whether 
the President exercised a constitutional authority or not. 

Some gentlemen think the Constitution takes no notice of this officer, 
as the head of a department. They suppose him an inferior officer in aid of 
the executive. This, I think, is going too far ; because the Constitution, in 
the words authorizing the President to call on the heads of departments 
for their opinions in writing, contemplates several departments. It says, 
" the prmcipal officer in each of the executive departments." 

1789.] President's Power of Removal, — Sedgwick. 356 

I have seriously reflected on this subject, and am conduced that the 
Vresident h is not this power by the Constitution, and that, if we had the 
right to invest him with it, it would be dangerous to do so. 

Mr. HUNTINGDON. I think the clause ought not to stand. It was 
well observed, that the Constitution was silent respecting the removal, oth- 
erwise than by impeachment. I would likewise add, that it mentions no 
other cause of removal than treason, bribery, or other high crimes and 
misdemeanors. It does not, I apprehend, extend to cases of infirmity or 
incapacity. Indeed, it appears hard to me thit, afler an officer has become 
old in an honorable service, he should be impeached for this infirmity. 
The Constitution, I think, must be the only rule to guide us on this occa- 
sion. As it is silent with respect to the removal, Congress ought to say 
nothing about it, because it implies that we have a right to bestow it, atid 
I believe this power is not to be found among the enumerated powers 
delegated by the Constitution to Congress. 

It was said, if the President had this authority, it would make him more 
responsible for the conduct of the officer. But if we have a vicious Pres- 
ident, who inclines to abuse this power, which God forbid ! his responsi 
bility will stand us in little stead : therefore that idea does not satisfy m( 
that it is proper the President should have this power. 

Mr. SED3WICK. I wish the words to be struck out, because I con- 
ceive them to be unnecessary in this place. I do conceive, Mr. Speaker, 
that this officer will be the mere creature of the law, and that very little 
need be said to prove to you that of necessity this ought to be the easel I 
apprehend, likewise, that it requires but a small share of abilities to point 
out certain causes for which a person ought to be removed from office, 
without being guilty of treason, bribery, or malfeasance ; and the nature 
of things demands that it should be so. Suppose, sir, a man becomes in- 
sane by the visitation of God, and is likely to ruin our affairs ; are the 
hands of givernftsnt to be confined from warding off the evil ? Suppose 
a person in office not possessing the talents he was judged to have at the 
time of the appointment ; is the error not to be corrected ? Suppose he 
acquires vicious habits, an incurable indolence, or total neglect of the 
duties of his office, which forebode mischief to the public welfire ; is there 
no way to arrest the threatened danger ? Suppose he becomes odious and 
unpopular by reason of the measures which he pursues, — and this he may 
do without committing any positive offence against the law, — must he 
preserve his office in despite of the public will ? Suppose him grasping at 
his own aggrandizement, and the elevation of his connections, by every 
means short of the treason defined by the Constitution, — hurrying your af- 
fairs to the precipice of destruction, endangering your domestic tranquillity, 
plundering you of the means of defence, by alienating the affections of 
your allies, and promoting the spirit of discord, — is there no way suddenly 
to seize the worthless wretch, and hurl him from the pinnacle of power ? 
Must the tardy, tedious, desultory road, by way of impeachment, be trav- 
elled to overtake the man who, barely confining himself within the letter 
of the law, is employed in drawing off the vital principle of the government t 
Sir, the nature of things, the great objects of society, the express objects 
of this Constitution, require that this thing should be otherwise. Well, sir. 
this is admitted by gentlemen ; but they sny the Senate is to be united with 
the President in th2 exercise of this power. I hope, sir, this is not the 
case, because it would involve us in the most serious difficulty. Suppose 
a discovery of any of thase events which I have just enumerated were to 

VOL. IV. 45 

354 PresidtnVs Power of Removal, — Mi^DisuN*. [Jun^ 16^ 

take place when the Senate is not in session ; how is the remedy to be ap- 
plied 1 This is a serious consideration, at»d the evil could be avoided do 
other way than by the Senate's sitting always. Surely no gentleman of 
this house contemplates the necessity of incurring such au expense. 1 am 
sure it will be very objectionable to our constituents; and yet this must be 
done, or the public interest be endangered by keeping, an unworthy 
officer in place until that body shall be assembled from tlie extremes of 
the Union. 

It has been said that there is danger of this power being abused if 
exercised by one man. Certainly, the danger is as great with respect to 
the Senate^ who are assembled from various parts of the continent, with 
different impressions and opinions. It appears to me that such a body is 
more likely to misuse this power than the man whom the united voice of 
America calls to the presidential chair. As the nature of the governnoent 
requires the power of removal, I think it is to be exercised in this way by 
a hand capable of exerting itself with effect ; and the p>ower must be con- 
ferred on the President by the Constitution, as the executive officer of the 

I believe some difficulty will result from determining this question by a 
mandamus. A mandamus is issued to replace an officer who has been re- 
moved contrary to law. Now, this officer being the creature of the law, 
we may declare that he shall be removed for incapacity ; and if so declared, 
the removal will be according to law. 

Mr. MADISON. If the construction of the Constitution is to be left 
to its natural course, with respect to the executive powers of this govern- 
ment, I own that the insertion of this sentiment in law may not be of 
material importance, though, if it is nothing more than a mere declaration 
of a clear grant made by the Constitution, it can do no harm ; but if it 
relates to a doubtful part of the Constitution, I suppose an ex)K>8ition of 
the Constitution may come with as much propriety from the legislature as 
any other department of government. If the power naturally belongs to 
the government, and the Constitution is undecided as to the body which 
is to exercise it, it is likely that it is submitted to the discretion of the 
legislatures, and the question will depend upon its own merits. 

I am clearly of opinion with the ^/entleman from South Carolina, (Mr. 
Smith,) that we ought, in this and every other case, to adhere to the Con- 
stitution, so far as it will serve as a guide to us; and that we ought not to 
be swayed in our decisions by the splendor of the character of our present 
chief magistrate, but consider it with respect to the merit of men who, in 
the ordinary course of things, may be supposed to fill the chair. I believe 
the power here declared is a high one, and in some respects a dangerous 
one ; but, in order to come to a right decision on this point, we must con- 
sider both sides of the question — the possible abuses which may spring 
from the single will of the first magistrate, and the abuse which may spring 
from the combined will of the executive and the senatorial qualification. 

When we consider that the first magistrate is to be appointed at prefsent 
by the suffraijes of three millions of people, and, in all human prohability, 
in a few years' time, by double that number, it is not to be presumed that 
a vicious or bad character will be selected. If the government of any 
country on the face of the earth was ever effectually guarded against the 
election of ambitious or designing characters to the first office of the state, 
I think it may with truth be ^aid to be the case under the Constitution of 
tite Tnited States. With all the infirmities incident to a popular election 

1789.] PresHieiU^s Power of Removai. — Madison. S5!i 

corrected by the particular mode of conducting it, as directed under the 
pre^nt system, 1 thinic we may fairly calculate that the instances will be 
very rare in which an unworthy man will receive that mark of public con- 
fidence which is required to designate the President of the United Statea 
Where the people are disposed to give so great an elevation to one of thoir 
fellow-citizens, I own that I am not afraid to place my confidence in hirn ; 
especially when I know he is impeachable, for any crime or misdemeanor, 
before the Senate at alt times; and that, at all events, he is impeachable 
before the community at large every four years, and liable to be displaced 
if his conduct shall have given umbrage during the time he has been in 
office. Under these circumstances, although the trust is a high one, and 
in some degree, perhaps, a dangerous one, I am not sure but it will be 
safer here th in placed where some gentlemen suppose it ought to be. 

It is evidently the intention of the Constitution that the first magistrate 
should be responsible for the executive department ; so far, therefore, as 
we do not mike the officers who are to aid him in the duties of that de« 
partment responsible to him, he is not responsible to his country. Again : 
is there no danger that an officer, when he is appointed by the concurrence 
of the Senate, and has friends in that body, may choose rather to risk hie 
establishment on the favor of that branch, than rest it upon the discharge 
of his duties to the satisfaction of the executive branch, which is constitu- 
tionally authorized to inspect and control his conduct f and if it should 
happen that the officers connect themselves with the Senate, they nuij 
mutuilly support each other, and, for want of eflicacy, reduce the power 
of the President to a mere vapor, in which case his responsibility would 
be annihilated, and the expectation of it unjust. The high executive offt- 
cers, joined in ctbal with the Senate, would lay the foundation ofdiscord^ 
and end in an assumption of the executive power, only to be removed by 
a revolution in the government. I believe no principle is more clearly 
laid down in the Constitution than that of responsibility. After premisinff 
this, I will proceed to an investigation of the merits of the question upon 
constitutional ground. 

I have, since the subject was last before the house, examined the Coik 
stitiition with attention ; and I acknowledtre that it does not perfectly 
correspond with the ideas I entertained of it from the first glance. I ann 
inclined to think thit a free and systematic interpretation of the plan of 
government will leave us less at liberty to abate the responsibilit); than 
gentleiien imagine. I have already acknowledged that the powers of the 
{^vernment must remain as apportioned by the Constitution. But it maf 
be contended that, where the Constitution is silent, it becomes a subject 
of legislative discretion. Perhaps, in the opinioh of .some, an argument in 
fnvor of the clause may be successfully brought forward on this ground. I,. 
however, leave it for the present untouched. 

By H strict examination of the Constitution on what appear to l>e its true 
principles, and considering the great department*; of the government in the 
relation they have to each other, I have my doubts whether we are not ab- 
solutely tied down to the construction declared in the bill. 

Ill the 1st section of the 1st article, it is said that all lecrislative powers 
herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States. In the 
21 article, it is affirmed that the executive power shall be vested in a 
President of the United States of America. In the 3d article, it is declared 
Will the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme 
Comt, and in such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time ot 

556 Prtiifden^s Power of Removal, — Madiion. \June XQ^ 

daiii and establish. I suppose it would be readily admitted that, so far as 
the Constitution has separated the powers of these great departments, it 
would be improper to combine them together ; and so tar as it has lefl any 
particular department in the entire possession of the powers incident to 
that department, I conceive we ought not to qualify them further than they 
are qualified by the Constitution. The legislative powers are vested in 
Congress, and are to be exercised by them uncontrolled by any other de- 
partment, except the Constitution has qualified it otherwise. The Consti- 
tution has qualified the legislative power by authorizing the President to 
object to any act it may puss — requiring, in this case, two thirds of both 
houses to concur in making a law; but still the absolute legislative power 
is vested in the Congress, with this qualification alone. 

The Constitution affirms that the executive power shall be vested in the 
President. Are there exceptions to this proposition 1 Yes, there are 
The Constitution says that, in appointing to office, the Senate shall be as- 
sociated with the President, unless in the case of inferior officers, when 
the law shall otherwise direct. Have we a ri^^ht to extend this exception ? 
I believe not. If the Constitution has invested all executive power in the 
President, I venture to assert that the legislature has no right to diminish 
or modify his executive authority. 

The question now resolves itself into this : Is the power of displacing 
an executive power ? I conceive that, if any power whatsoever is in ita 
nature executive, it is the power of appointing, overseeing, and controlling 
those who execute the laws. If the Constitution had not qualified the 
power of the President in appointing to office, by associating the Senate 
with him in that business, would it not be clear that he would have the 
right, by virtue of his executive power, to make such appointment? 
Should we be authorized, in defiance of that clause in the Constitution, — 
" The executive power shall be vested in a President," — to unite the Senate 
with the President in the appointment to office? I conceive not. If it is 
admitted we should not be authorized to do this, I think it may be dis- 
puted whether we have a right to associate them in removing persons from 
office, the one power being as much of an executive nature as the other ; 
and the first only is authorized by being excepted out of the general rule 
established by the Constitution, in these words, *'The executive power 
shall be vested in the President." 

The judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court ; but will gentlemen 
say the judicial power can be placed elsewhere, unless the Constitution 
has made an exception ? The Constitution justifies the Senate in exer- 
cising a judiciary power in determining on impeachments. But can the 
judicial powers be further blended with the powers of that body ? They 
cannot. I therefore say it is incontrovertible, if neither the legislative nor 
judicial powers are subjected to qualifications other than those demanded 
in the Constitution, that the executive powers are equally unabatable as 
either of the other ; and inasmuch as the power of removal is of an ex- 
ecutive nature, and not affected by any constitutional exception, it is be- 
yond the reach of the legislative body. 

If this is the true construction of this instrument, the clause in the bill 
is nothing more than explanatory of the meaning of the Constitution, and 
therefore not liable to any particular objection on that account. If the 
Constitution is silent, and it is a power the legislature have a right to con- 
fer, it will appear to the world, if we strike out the clause, as if we doubt- 
ed the propriety of vesting it in the President of the United States. I 
therefore think it best to retain it in the bill. 

1789.] PresiderU^s Power of Removal, — Boudinot. 357 

Mr. WHITE. I have no doubt in ray mind but an officer can be re- 
moved without a public trial. I think there are cases in which it jwould 
he that his misdemeanors should be publicly known; the trail- 
quillity and harmony of the Union might be endangered if his guilt was 
not secreted from the world. I have therefore no hesitation in declaring, 
as my sentiment/that the President and Senate may dismiss him. 

The Constitution contemplates a removal in some other way besides 
that by impeachment, or why is it declared, in favor of the judges only, that 
they shall hold their offices during good behavior ? Does not this strongly 
imply that, without such an exception, there would have been a discretion- 
ary power in some branch of the government to dismiss even them ? 

Several objections have arisen from the inconvenience with which the 
power must be exercised, if the Senate is blended with the executive; and 
therefore it is inferred that the President ought exclusively to have this 
power. If we were framing a constitution, these arguments would have 
their proper weight, and I might approve such an arrangement. But at 
present, I do not consider we are \i liberty to deliberate on that subject ; 
the Constitution is already formed, and we can go no farther in distributing 
the powers than the Constitution warrants. 

It was objected that the President could not remove an officer unless the 
Senate was in session ; but yet the emergency of the case might demand 
an instant dismission. I should imagine that no inconvenience would re- 
8ult on this account; because, on my principle, the same power which can 
make a temporary appointment, can make an equal suspension : the pow- 
ers are opposite to each other. 

The gentleman says we ought not to blend the executive and legislative 
powers further than they are blended in the Constitution. I contend we 
do not There is no expression in the Constitution which says that the 
President shall have the power of removal from office : but the contrary 
is strongly implied ; for it [s said that Congress may establish officers by 
law, and vest the appointment, and consequently the removal, in the Pres- 
ident alone, in the courts of law, or heads of departments. Now, this 
shows that Congress are not at liberty to make any alteration by law in 
the mode of appointing superior officers, and consequently that they are 
Dot at liberty to alter the manner of removal. 

Mr. BOUDINOT. This is a question, Mr. Speaker, that requires full 
consideration, and ought only to be settled on the most candid discussion. 
It certainly involves the right of the Senate to a very important power. 
At present, I am so impressed with the importance of the subject, that I 
dire not absolutely decide on any principle, although I am firmly per- 
suaded we ought to retain the clause in the bill ; and, so far as it has 
been examined, I agree that it is a leorislative construction of the Constitu- 
tion necessary to be settled for the direction of your officers. But if it is 
a deviation from the Constitution, or in the least degree an infringement 
upon the authority of the other branch of the legislature, I shall most de- 
cidedly be against it. But I think it will appear, on a full consideration 
of this business, that we can do no otherwise thm agree to this construc- 
tion, in order to preserve to each department the full exercise of its powers, 
and to give this house security for the proper conduct of the ofi\pers who 
ire to execute the laws. 

The arguments adduced are to show that the power of removal lies either 
in the President and the Senate, or the President alone, except in caset 
of ie*DOval by impeachment There is nothing, I take it, in the Consti- 

•i58 PruidmCs Pomer rf Removal, — BooDtAOT. [ Jiok 1& 

Cation, CM the reason of the thing, that officers should be only renovftble 
bjT irapeachnient. Such a provision would be derogatory to the powe-rs of 
governoient, and subversive of the rights of the people. What says the 
Constitution on this point? I fear, sir, it has not been rightly compre- 
hended. That the House of Representatives shall have the sole power of 
impeachment ; that the Senate shall have the sole power to try all ioipeach- 
ments; and judgment shall not extend further than to removal from office, 
and disqualification to huld it in future : then comes the clause declar- 
ing, absolutely, that he shall be removed from office on impeachment for 
and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors. 

It is this clause which guards the right of the house, and enables thero 
to pull down an improper officer, although he should be supported by all 
the power of the executive. This, then, is a necessary security to the 
(>eople, and one that is wisely provided in the Constitution. But I believe 
it is nowhere said that officers shall never be removed but by impeachmeat ; 
but it says they shall be removed on impeachment. Suppose the secreta- 
ry of foreign affairs shall misbehave, and we impeach him; notwithstand- 
ing tiie clearest proof of guilt, the Senate might only impose some trifling 
punishment, and retain him in office, if it